# All Questions

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### Where does the solar system end?

This is a question I've heard many times in the past, and a quick search of the site says it hasn't been asked here, so I figured I might as well ask (and answer) it. I know that it is rare for ...
167 views

### How can I safely observe a Solar Flare?

Solar Flares obviously release extreme amounts of energy and extend thousands of miles out into space. Because they are so big I would like to be able to observe some of these events through a ...
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### Why has Venus's atmosphere not been stripped away by solar wind?

This answer on Space Exploration to a question about Mars says that one reason Mars has such a thin atmosphere is because it lacks a magnetic field to protect it from the effect of double solar winds. ...
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### Why is the Oort cloud presumed to be spherical?

Most descriptions of the Oort cloud depict it as a mostly spherical distribution of planetesimals, with occasional allowance for an inner component that is more donut-shaped. This is slightly at odds ...
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### How do/did we figure out that planets move in orbits?

I've learned that planets move in orbits around the Sun, but I really don't know how I would come to this conclusion myself. I've only seen planets in the sky a couple times (knowingly), and I am ...
124 views

### Has Hawking Radiation Ever Been Observed?

I know Hawking Radiation has firm theoretical footing, but has a signal ever actually been observed? What observational research is being done to attempt to see this effect? Is it simply too tall an ...
1k views

### Can I see “my own hand” in the void space?

If I were floating in a void (far away from any galaxy or cluster), would the light from these objects at such distances be enough to see for example, my hand?
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### How many planetary systems exist in our galaxy?

For many years scientists have studied our own solar system and modern technology allows them to look deeper and deeper into space. Knowing the Sun is only one of a few billion stars in the Milky Way ...
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### How often do comets survive passage by the Sun?

I had heard that comet ISON might not survive a close pass by our Sun, and I was curious about the odds of how other comets had fared. So, how often do other comets survive a close pass by our sun? ...
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### Future of CMB observations: How will our knowledge of the early universe change?

The Planck satellite has been presented and awaited for a long time as the ultimate experiments for measuring temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) over the full sky. One ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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, ...
332 views

### Does a planet's mass or gravity affect the height of it's mountains?

According to this Wikipedia page, the top five highest mountains on Mars (and the highest on Venus) are all taller than Mount Everest (and Mauna Kea as measured from the ocean floor). Does a planet's ...
122 views

### Affordable night sky photography

As an amateur with limited budget, I'd be interested in taking photos of the night sky, trying to capture more detail than human eye armed with a lens of comparable parameters to what I have in my ...
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### How are the compositional components of exoplanet atmospheres differentiated?

How are exoplanetary atmosphere compositional spectra distinguished from those of the parent star(s), from the composition of the planetary surface or any other factor? Is it actually possible to ...
189 views

### How exactly does inflation convert random gravity fluctuations into coherent gravitational waves?

In the course of this very enjoyable press announcement, it is mentioned that inflation can create gravity waves by amplifying gravity fluctuations. I do not properly understand this statement. I ...
6k views

### What will happen to life on Earth when Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies collide?

It is said that, Andromeda and Milky way galaxies are coming close to each other with the speed of approx $400000 \ km/hours$. They will be together in the next $4 \ billion years$. What will ...
287 views

### At what distance from Earth would our Sun be the same apparent magnitude as the next brightest star in the sky?

When I stand outside looking at the night sky, to my untrained eye, everything except the moon looks like a star. I know intellectually that some are planets circling our sun, and some are entire ...
241 views

### Space expansion in layman terms

So far I got to understand the expansion of space is not to be understood as stars drifting further apart through space. There's something more fundamental - e.g. you can't simply measure speed of it, ...
343 views

### Why does the Earth have a tilt of ~23°?

Is there a reason that the Earth has the tilt that it does (~23°)? How do we know which way is supposed to be 0°? Does this tilt have major consequences on the planet? Has it changed and will it ...
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### What is the distance that the Moon travels during one orbit around the Earth?

Also, does it always take the same amount of time, or does it fractionally differ on each revolution?
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### How was the core temperature of the Sun estimated?

It was estimated that the heat inside the core of the Sun inside around 15 000 000 °C - this value is extremely enormous. How did scientists estimate this value?
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### What is the formula to predict lunar and solar eclipses accurately?

A number of ancient civilizations had devised methods to predict exact dates and times of such eclipses, marking them as important events. Hence I assume the predictions were based on calculations, ...
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### Do other planets in our solar system experience eclipses or is this unique to Earth?

Here on Earth we get to experience lunar and solar eclipses. Is this pure coincidence that everything happens to line up? Do other planets in the solar system experience this phenomenon or is this ...
187 views

### Is it possible to measure galactic red shift using consumer telescope equipment?

I was wondering if it would be possible to measure red shift from distant galaxies using consumer grade telescope equipment and spectroscopy filters. (like this one) I imagine it would require a ...
190 views

### How are the photos of milkyway taken?

We are inside the milky way, right? So, how are we able to take photos of the milky way galaxy?
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### Is the moon moving further away from Earth and closer to the Sun? Why?

According to The NASA Moon Facts page: The moon is actually moving away from earth at a rate of 1.5 inches per year. Why is the moon moving further away from the Earth? Is this a result of the ...
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### Have we ever observed a large meteor hit the Moon?

Since the moon has no atmosphere, its surface has many more meteorite impacts than Earth's does. Image source Have we ever observed a meteor strike the surface of the Moon?
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### How does neutron star collapse into black hole?

We know the spectacular explosions of supernovae, that when heavy enough, form black holes. The explosive emission of both electromagnetic radiation and massive amounts of matter is clearly observable ...
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### 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 ...
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### Will an observer falling into a black hole be able to witness any future events in the universe outside the black hole?

I know someone or something sucked into a black hole could not survive, but is the bending of light so immense that an observer falling into a black hole will be able to witness any future events in ...
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### What is the naming convention for newly discovered objects?

Often, a newly discovered star is identified by a seemingly random string of letters and numbers. I'm sure that there is some order to it, though. What is the naming convention for newly discovered ...
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### 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 ...
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### Our galaxy, the Milky Way, forms part of a galaxy group called The Local Group. What are the parameters that dictate what a galaxy group is?

Are there different classifications or just the one? How does our galaxy group compare with others?
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### Inflation cosmology: slow-roll inflation versus tunneling between two vacua

In slow-roll inflation models, the early inflation of the universe is driven by the flat non-zero part of the inflaton potential, and it ends as the ball rolls down the cliff and the potential energy ...
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### What is the current accepted theory as to why Venus has a slow retrograde rotation?

According to this NASA overview, the planet Venus is unique (amongst the major planets), Venus has a slow retrograde axial rotation, taking 243 Earth days to make one rotation (which is longer than ...
159 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 ...
285 views

### Why do (most of) the planets rotate counterclockwise, i.e. the same way the Sun does?

Referring to the mechanisms explaining the solar system formation and to the initial rotation of the gaseous cloud that collapsed, I understand easily why the planets orbit the Sun the same way this ...
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### 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 ...
230 views

### Why did the Comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 fragments cause such large explosions on Jupiter?

In July 1994, the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (D/1993 F2) tidally fragmented and these fragments collided into Jupiter, as per the image below. Image source The question is, what mechanisms resulted in ...
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### Do we know the exact spot where big bang took place?

If you rewind the universe back 14,7 billion years, all matter were in one spot, and then started expanding. Do we know where this is in reference to our own solar system? And is there anything there? ...
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### 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 ...
229 views

### How would I measure that I'm at a pole?

How would a person measure that he is at a planetary pole? My first inclination is to use a sextant to ensure that the Sun remains at a constant inclination. However, due to the orbit around the Sun ...
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### 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?
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### How big would the asteroid belt planet be?

As I understand it, the asteroid belt exists because the gravitational force of Jupiter prevents the asteroids from accreting (is that a word?) into a planet. If, however, Jupiter didn't exist and ...
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### How do we know that the speed of the influence of gravity is instant?

When I was in college, I posed to my astronomy professor a thought experiment that had been puzzling my mind for some time: "If the sun magically disappeared, instantly, along with all its influences, ...
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### What is the evidence that galaxies rotate?

Do all galaxies rotate? If so, do they rotate in the same direction? What observations have been made of galaxy rotation?
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### How exactly is our universe mapped?

Watching this youtube video shows that our planet is nothing more than dust in the wind. At the 2:50 mark in the video, you will see a view of the whole Milky Way. At the bottom you will see this ...