11
votes
1answer
221 views

What is the accepted theory as to why Uranus' axis is tilted so severely?

The planet Uranus is another solar system anomaly, where according to the NASA profile has an axial tilt of 97.8 degrees, also considered to be retrograde. This NASA summary "Uranus" suggests the ...
10
votes
1answer
136 views

On what scale does the universe expand?

According to the theory (or my understanding of it), the universe is not only expanding, but speeding up. If the galaxies are moving apart, are the solar systems within them also moving apart from ...
9
votes
3answers
502 views

How can the 13.8 billion years old universe have a radius of 46 billion light years?

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old. Assume at the big-bang it starts from a small region and the maximum possible speed according Einstein is the speed of light how can the universe got a ...
8
votes
2answers
212 views

What is the difference between asteroids, comets and meteors?

Some celestial objects seem to be referred to as asteroids, some as comets, and some as meteors or meteorites. What is the distinction between all of these different objects? Are any of them the ...
6
votes
1answer
519 views

Why is the solar system often shown as a 2D plane?

Whenever I have learned about the solar system I always see the orbits displayed as a virtually flat plane. Are all of the orbits in the solar system really like this? If so, why? It seems like a ...
3
votes
1answer
54 views

How did the Hulse-Taylor Pulsar Provide Confirming Evidence of General Relativity?

What measurements and observations of the Hulse-Taylor Pulsar agreed precisely with the predictions of general relativity, and how did these measurements support the theory?
3
votes
1answer
414 views

How likely and severe is the threat of a gamma ray burst to earth?

In the National Geographic article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090403-gamma-ray-extinction_2.html it is suggested that a gamma ray burst likely caused a mass extinction in earth's ...
1
vote
1answer
70 views

Distance of extra-galactic Classical Cepheids

There have been many questions and answers about finding the distance of a star from the earth. But as I did some research on the net, I found that we have specific approaches for finding the ...
1
vote
3answers
135 views

How fast is the universe expanding?

I've hear several theories stating that the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light, others claim that the universe expands faster the further away you measure it. Which of this is ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

How do we know that the intrinsic brightness of Cepheid variables corresponds to their period?

As I understand it, beyond parallax the next way of estimating the distance to astronomical objects is by using a relationship between the period and intrinsic luminosity of Cepheid variables. How do ...
0
votes
2answers
177 views

What happened before the big bang? [duplicate]

Was there space before big bang? Or who knows there might be different heavenly bodies that we might not perceive?
36
votes
4answers
5k views

Is the moon only 60 pixels?

In doing research on vision, I have learned that "20/20" vision corresponds to a visual acuity of being able to resolve details 1 arcminute in size, that most people have around 20/15 vision, and that ...
45
votes
3answers
1k views

Does the Sun rotate?

The planets rotate as an after effect of their creation, the dust clouds that compressed span as they did so and the inertia has kept it rotating ever since. It's fairly easy to prove that planetary ...
11
votes
4answers
160 views

How does Titan maintain the atmosphere

Titan which is smaller than mars has an atmosphere but mars is not able to maintain atmosphere. Even Luna doesn't have an atmosphere.
18
votes
5answers
807 views

Can we (theoretically) spin the black hole so strong that it will be broken apart by centrifugal force?

I can't imagine the forces involved in black holes' lives. So please, help me to find out, if it is possible or not to destroy black hole in this specific way.
18
votes
3answers
586 views

Can small gas planets exist?

Most of the known gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, etc.) are huge. They are even called "gas giants". is it possible to exist a gas planet around the size of Earth? If yes, why; if no, why?
8
votes
3answers
239 views

How would we detect an Earth doppelganger planet?

With our current technology, or technology available in the near future (up to 2025), how would we detect a planet exactly like our own, and how close would it have to be to be detectable? Which ...
7
votes
1answer
138 views

Detecting Deep Impact

There have been several accounts in media articles of asteroid near misses, many describe that the asteroid was not seen before the near miss. After reading the question and answer to How can we tell ...
18
votes
2answers
387 views

What is a parsec and how is it measured?

Astronomical units of measurement are mostly pretty straight-forward: Astronomical Units refer to the mean Earth-Sun distance (~150 million km or 93 million miles) Light years are the distance light ...
12
votes
2answers
296 views

Do moons have moons?

Have we discovered any natural satellites of natural satellites of planets or dwarf planets? Even very small, or relatively short-lived - e.g. ringlets around Saturn's moons, some meteorites orbiting ...
11
votes
1answer
196 views

How stable are Lissajous orbits?

Now that the Gaia Space Telescope is on it's way to the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrangian point (SEL2), I start wondering about the stability of Gaia's orbit there. The Planck Telescope is already there, as was ...
20
votes
1answer
265 views

How could a hobbyist astronomer determine apparent magnitude of a star?

Apparent magnitude is a rather complex way to determine the brightness of a star. Quoting the introduction text from the linked to Wikipedia page: The apparent magnitude (m) of a celestial body is ...
17
votes
1answer
262 views

What causes a star to become a pulsar?

What processes does a star undergo to become a pulsar? Does it take a very specific star with a certain set of qualities such as "Just the right mass, diameter, and composition," or is it a freak ...
12
votes
1answer
133 views

Dark Matter Particle Candidates

Dark matter appears to dominate the matter component of the universe as compared to luminous, or baryonic, matter. Though it does not interact electromagnetically (it doesn't absorb, scatter, or emit ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

How far is the Earth/Sun above/below the galactic plane, and is it heading toward/away from it?

How far is the Earth/Sun above/below the galactic plane, and is it heading toward/away from it? We know the Sun is orbiting the galactic center every 225 million years. But how far are we from the ...
9
votes
1answer
257 views

Why does a planet rotate and revolve?

Why do planets rotate and revolve in the universe?
8
votes
1answer
3k views

How would Earth's climate differ if it's axis were tilted around 90 degrees like Uranus? [closed]

As the title states, what would the effect on Earth's climate be if it's axis were tilted approximately 90 degrees like Uranus? I'm specifically wondering about the effects on seasons, temperature, ...
7
votes
2answers
189 views

Is there any difference between parallel universes and multiverse?

Nowadays we come across with these two terms - parallel universes and multiverse. I wonder if this is the same thing or its two entirely different principles because the names are a bit confusing to ...
6
votes
3answers
299 views

What is a singularity? What is at the center of a black hole? Specifically regarding space-time

So because I can only really think of space-time in 2-dimensions like a sheet of something, my assumptions might be wrong to begin with. I was watching a YouTube video on black-holes and there was a ...
4
votes
2answers
138 views

Is there an element of chance/chaos in stellar evolution?

Since stars are an ideal example of macroscopic objects, is their evolution determined by their initial mass and metallicity? Are there any non-trivial random internal processes going on that may ...
4
votes
1answer
172 views

Does our universe have to be embedded in a higher dimensional space?

I've heard that our universe may be open or closed. If it's closed it might have a toroid shape. If this is the case, would that imply that our 3 spatial dimensions have to be embedded in a higher ...
1
vote
2answers
83 views

How do astronomers estimate the total mass of dust in clouds and galaxies?

As I understand it astronomers estimate the mass of stars by studying the orbits of their companions (other stars or planets). This helps them to derive relationships between the luminosities and ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Do all stars have an oort cloud or is it a rare occurance?

Do all stars have an oort cloud like ours that will be filled with comets and other objects? If not, why are they not around every star?
15
votes
1answer
921 views

Can you see man-made lights on the dark side of the Earth from the surface of the moon with the naked eye?

This question is prompted from a comment on this answer: Could a person on the surface of the moon see man-made lights on the dark side of the Earth with the naked eye? If not, how much magnification ...
15
votes
3answers
315 views

Are we made of the stuff of one star or more stars?

[T]his coincidence enabled stars in the late stages of their lives to turn helium into carbon, oxygen and most of the other atoms that you and I are made of. [...] [W]e're made of star stuff. Max ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Is Jupiter made entirely out of gas?

I heard that Jupiter is made out of gas. But in school I learned that Jupiter has gravity which is 2.5 times that of Earth (Gravity that can tear apart a comet) and gravity is proportional to mass. ...
13
votes
1answer
381 views

Could any known, living organisms on Earth survive on Mars?

No life has been discovered outside of Earth (yet?), but do we know if anything that would be considered "living" on Earth could conquer Mars? (or maybe Venus?) With the Mars One project on the way, ...
13
votes
2answers
284 views

Is there a upper limit to the number of planets orbiting a star?

Our sun has 8 planets orbiting as well as a number of dwarf planets. Are there any calculations that hint as to whether this number is close to some theoretical maximum value or are we simply an ...
13
votes
3answers
148 views

When will we be able to detect Earth-sized exoplanets?

I have heard that the only planets able to be seen outside the Solar system are Jovian-sized planets with the occasional detection of planets three times the Earth's size. But, as far as I know, we ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

How can I collimate a dobsonian telescope with a laser collimator?

I've had a dobsonian telescope for a while now, but I've never been able to collimate it. I thought I had it collimated once, but when I looked through it the star didn't look right, it looked kind ...
11
votes
3answers
327 views

Will Saturn's rings become a moon?

Planets form from disks of matter orbiting around a star; some moons form from disks of matter orbiting planets. If this were going to happen around Saturn, approximately how much time would it take?
11
votes
1answer
225 views

Why does the Moon stablize Earth's axis?

In an academic study titled 'The Moon and the Origin of Life on Earth' it is said that 'If the Moon did not exist, the orientation of the Earth’s axis would not be stable, and would be subject ...
10
votes
3answers
444 views

How do we know dark matter/dark energy exists?

I've never quite understood the theory behind why dark matter and dark energy exist. I know it has something to do with gravitational pull being stronger than what we calculate it SHOULD be, could ...
10
votes
1answer
130 views

Were effects of a planetary magnetic field reversal observed on other planets than Earth?

From geological records in rocks and minerals we know that the magnetic field of Earth changed its polarity multiple times in the history. See Geomagnetic reversal. Was a similar process of a ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Why do the planets in our solar system orbit in the same plane?

(Yes I'm excluding Pluto from this the same way it was excluded for not being a planet) Observing the planets orbit of the Sun they all seem relatively planar and roughly all orbit along the same ...
10
votes
2answers
289 views

How many galaxies have been discovered?

I know Andromeda is our nearest galaxy. But how many known galaxies have been discovered and what are they?
8
votes
3answers
524 views

Is the Jupiter-Sun system considered a binary system of some type?

Since Jupiter is very massive, it is the only planet (in our solar system) that has a center of mass with the Sun that lies outside the volume of the Sun. (Source) If Jupiter was a star, they would ...
8
votes
2answers
128 views

Can moon set after being up when due north? (pseudo circumpolarity)

I'm in the northern hemisphere, facing north, and notice that the moon is due north (azimuth 0) and is still above the horizon, albeit barely. Does this mean the moon is necessarily circumpolar ...
8
votes
2answers
95 views

How far apart is the dust in the Sombrero Galaxy's dust lane?

In his answer to this question, TildalWave made this remark: I think that first, we have to properly appreciate the size of the Sombrero Galaxy. It is roughly 50,000 light years (15 kilo parsecs) ...
6
votes
3answers
171 views

Aren't there more naked-eye-visible stars in the Milky Way plane?

Most stars which are visible to the naked eye are within 1,000 light years. The Sun is inside the Orion arm which has a diameter of about 3,500 light years. Thus, all stars (with very few exceptions) ...

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