11
votes
1answer
227 views

If the moon wasn't receding from Earth, what would be the impact on the weather and tides?

Moon is slowly receding from Earth, which means that after its formation it was much closer to the Earth than now. How would weather look like if it wasn't receding at it would be now as close as at ...
11
votes
2answers
191 views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
57 views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
201 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
194 views

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?
11
votes
1answer
239 views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
176 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
236 views

Do we get any benefit from being in a galaxy?

If our solar system were to somehow be created outside of a galaxy as a single star in the vast nothingness between galaxies, would life on Earth change any? Does being a member of a galaxy actually ...
11
votes
1answer
126 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
249 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
407 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
4answers
242 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
139 views

What is the orbital path of the newly discovered star-less planet PSO J318.5-22?

Recent results from Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa claim that there is a Jupiter-sized gas giant planet that is independent of a star about 80 light-years from Earth. ...
10
votes
3answers
397 views

Is it a coincidence that both the sun and moon look of same size from earth?

The sun is huge when compared to moon. Despite the huge difference in their size and distance from earth, Is it purely coincidental that they both look almost the same from earth?
10
votes
4answers
128 views

Are there ways other than the collapse of a star which have been observed to form black holes?

Every time I hear about a black hole, it's always in conjunction with the collapse of a star. Have any other processes been observed to create a black hole?
10
votes
3answers
131 views

What limits the usable focal length of telescopes currently?

What barriers - of technology, physics and possibly economy (things that would be possible technologically but are simply too expensive) sets the upper bound on quality of telescopes for observation ...
10
votes
3answers
313 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?
10
votes
2answers
237 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?
10
votes
2answers
324 views

How often do stars pass close (~1ly) to the Sun?

Interstellar exchange of massive objects is difficult across several light years. But as the stars orbit the galaxy the distances between them change. I don't find data for neighbor star distances ...
10
votes
2answers
137 views

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?
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Is Pluto still a dwarf planet?

Recent news seem to suggest that astronomers are arguing about whether Pluto should become a planet again. However, I cannot find an official source for this. Is this actually true?
10
votes
2answers
291 views

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 ...
10
votes
2answers
148 views

What is the upper and lower limit of temperatures found on stars?

What are the most extreme temperatures (both hot and cold) stars have been detected at? Is there an upper and lower limit for the detected temperature of stars?
10
votes
3answers
419 views

Questions about spiral galaxy arms

I have 2 questions related to spiral galaxies. Firstly, how did the arms form? Why would the stars accumulate into those specific areas? And secondly, why are they still intact? The inner parts of ...
10
votes
1answer
127 views

Why Did Mars lose its Magnetic Field?

I had heard that Mars once had a planetary magnetic field, but that it is now gone? What happened to it?
10
votes
2answers
125 views

What is radiation pressure and how does it prevent a star from forming?

This is a follow up to: Is there a theoretical maximum size limit for a star? The answer there talks about the radiation pressure preventing a star from forming. What reaction is causing this ...
10
votes
1answer
120 views

Why does the Moon seem larger when it is close to the horizon? [duplicate]

I've noticed that when I look into the sky at night, sometimes the moon appears very large near the horizon. Sometimes it also looks like it has a yellow tint. Is this the light rays bouncing off ...
10
votes
2answers
132 views

How hot must a star get before it is considered to be a star?

How hot must a star get before it actually becomes a star? Why does it need to get so hot? Please find an official site to quote from, if you can.
10
votes
1answer
118 views

Name of area close to Local Bubble?

The following image is a map of the area surrounding the Local Bubble. One side of the image is 1700 lightyears. From the Sun to the Hyades (immediately below the sun) it is 150 lightyears. The local ...
10
votes
1answer
151 views

Will Neptune be visible with the naked eye if I am standing on its satellite

Assume that I am standing on one of the many satellites of Neptune. Will I be able to see the planet with my naked eyes (without any sort of visual aid). If I was to stand on Moon I would be able to ...
10
votes
1answer
92 views

How hot can a planet be?

Given that some exoplanets, particular "Hot Jupiters", orbit very closely to their parent star, how hot can these planets become? What is the hottest exoplanet discovered so far?
10
votes
1answer
658 views

Why do some planets have rings?

Some planets, specifically Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in our solar system, have planetary rings. Why do some planets have rings? How are they made and from what? Most importantly, will I ...
10
votes
1answer
312 views

Explaining Dark Matter and Dark Energy to layman

With my little knowledge, I know this: Dark Matter The center of a galaxy controls/attracts its objects (stars, planets, comets etc.) towards itself because of gravity. But the mass of the center of ...
10
votes
1answer
51 views

Loss of atmosphere on Mars

If the atmosphere on Mars was once much thicker, how was it likely lost? Was it due to interaction with the solar wind, the small size of the planet, both, or something else, and approximately how ...
10
votes
1answer
113 views

What are the current observational constraints on the existence of Nemesis?

Nemesis is a hypothetical companion to the Sun on a very eccentric, long-period orbit. The star supposedly returns every few tens of millions years, driving comets into the inner solar system and ...
10
votes
2answers
222 views

How does angular resolution of a telescope translate to its parallax precision?

We can often read in the scientific and also more casual reader literature and articles about the angular resolution of various telescopes and other optical equipment, be it ground based or onboard ...
10
votes
2answers
474 views

Why do stars appear to twinkle?

Sometimes at night you will look up to the stars and they will appear to twinkle, getting brighter and darker in bursts. Why does this happen? Is this because of our atmosphere? Would they twinkle ...
10
votes
2answers
111 views

Relativistic effects in stellar dynamical systems

I am curious, if anybody knows of any stellar dynamical systems/environments, where relativistic effects could play a dynamical role on the motion of these stellar systems? As a subquestion - are ...
10
votes
1answer
131 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
49 views

How can we detect water on Mars-like exoplanets?

According to data from Curiosity, Mars' dust holds about 2% water by weight This wasn't previously detected, so the impression we have had of Mars being incredibly dry may need to be altered. Okay it ...
10
votes
1answer
785 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
1answer
114 views

Which came first: black holes or galaxies?

In other terms, did galaxies grow around black holes at their center?
10
votes
1answer
97 views

How is it known that Callisto has no core?

My Astronomy book claims that scientists have discovered that Callisto, a moon of Jupiter, has no hot inner core. In fact, it says, Callisto has a core much like the nucleus of a comet. Is this still ...
10
votes
1answer
123 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
163 views

Why haven't asteroid belts turned into new large bodies?

If gravitation (attraction of mass) is the cause of the formation of all celestial bodies then how come the numerous small bodies found in asteroid belts spread over an orbit instead of clustering ...
9
votes
8answers
861 views

What's the largest non-spherical astronomical object in the universe?

Some asteroids and comets are non-spherical. But is the nature of big things and gravity so that large things in the universe are always spherical? What is the biggest astronomical object in terms of ...
9
votes
4answers
209 views

What is the most extreme weather found on another planet?

On Venus, there is really inhospitable weather, as well as within the gas giants in our solar system. Are there examples of even more extreme weather on planets found in other solar systems than ours? ...
9
votes
6answers
956 views

Why doesn't Earth's axis change during the year?

My understanding is that the Earth's axis points in the same direction in space during its entire orbit around the sun. And this is what causes our seasons. My question is why doesn't the axis follow ...
9
votes
5answers
195 views

Orbiting around a black hole

Is it possible (for either a satellite or a planet) to orbit around a black hole? Do they attract everything around themselves into the center? Or they just affect gravitational force just like stars? ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is there a black stripe in the Hubble images of Pluto?

While reading reports about the New Horizons misson, I noticed an odd vertical, black stripe in the images of Pluto. Here is an example: Source: Hubble Discovers a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto ...

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