13
votes
2answers
7k views

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, ...
13
votes
2answers
185 views

How does the evolution of a solar system not break the second law of thermodynamics?

Please forgive: I am a layman when it comes to physics and cosmology, and have tried finding an answer to this that I can understand, with no luck. As I understand it, the solar system evolved from a ...
13
votes
1answer
4k views

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 ...
13
votes
3answers
166 views

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 ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

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 ...
13
votes
1answer
133 views

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? ...
13
votes
1answer
129 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?
13
votes
1answer
418 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
775 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
79 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
282 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?
13
votes
2answers
95 views

On (minuscule) dark matter production in supernovae

It is believed that dark matter is made of particles, which interact with matter only weakly and gravitationally. One common candidate for dark matter are so called WIMPs. WIMPs, specifically, are ...
13
votes
2answers
463 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
1answer
112 views

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 ...
13
votes
4answers
346 views

Blowing up an asteroid/comet really potentially worse?

Often on television shows and in articles I see it mentioned that it'd always be bad to blow up an asteroid or comet because then the energy would just be spread out and cause even more damage. ...
13
votes
1answer
183 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
210 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?
12
votes
1answer
337 views

How are the photos of the Milky Way taken?

We are inside the Milky Way, right? So, how are we able to take photos of the Milky Way?
12
votes
4answers
835 views

Why can't we observe the Oort cloud with a telescope?

The Oort cloud is a hypothetical structure based on our observation of long-period comets. There are currently proposals to design probes to confirm the existence of the Oort cloud. Now, sending a ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What wavelength to best detect the “9th planet”?

We know that the reflected sunlight will make detecting the 9th planet very difficult in the visible light. Is there another band that will be more likely to detect it? What is the surface temperature ...
12
votes
2answers
552 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
149 views

Have we ever observed a body, such as a large asteroid, “hitting” the Sun?

Some other SE questions about launching ICBM's into the sun got me wondering whether we have ever observed an object on a path that intersected with the Sun? How close did it get?
12
votes
6answers
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?
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Was the Milky Way ever a quasar?

Is there any evidence that the Milky Way could have been a quasar in it's early history? Is it thought that most galaxies come from quasars?
12
votes
3answers
508 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

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?
12
votes
2answers
281 views

Dimensions of a black hole

How big can a black hole become and how small can a black hole become?(minimum and maximum dimensions of a black hole)
12
votes
1answer
367 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
457 views

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?
12
votes
2answers
124 views

What earth organisms would survive if they arrived on Mars?

Contaminating other planets is a concern in space exploration. My question is what organisms, or small collections of organisms, from earth would be able form a self-sustaining population on Mars? I'm ...
12
votes
1answer
181 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
291 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
214 views

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 ...
12
votes
1answer
310 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
7answers
1k views

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? ...
11
votes
4answers
328 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? ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Is Earth unique in its fairly clear atmosphere?

So, we have surface pictures from two alien planets, Venus (captured by the Venera 13), and Mars (captured by the rover). Both of these pictures appear to be very dusty. For Venus we see strong ...
11
votes
4answers
212 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. ...
11
votes
4answers
308 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

Is the Earth going to evolve towards Mars' fate or Venus' fate?

Upon reading on this site (and many others), one can think that Mars might have supported life in a distant past (discovery of liquid water, valleys, mountains...). On the other hand, Venus is the ...
11
votes
2answers
371 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, ...
11
votes
4answers
631 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.
11
votes
2answers
217 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?
11
votes
1answer
276 views

If we count Avogadro's Number of stars that are closest to Earth, how big that space would be?

I posted this as a question to Scientific Imagination (Area 51 proposal) a while ago. And it was suggested that this question "is perfectly acceptable on Astronomy SE", since "it's about stellar ...
11
votes
4answers
9k views

What is the difference between our time and space time?

I am trying to understand the phenomenon of space-time. But, everything on internet seems to be too complicated for me since I do not have a background in physics. Can anyone give me simple ...
11
votes
1answer
193 views

Why Jupiter's Great Red Spot is Reddish?

The Great Red Spot is a persistent anticyclonic storm, 22° south of Jupiter's equator, but why is it reddish? From Wikipedia: It is not known exactly what causes the Great Red Spot's reddish ...
11
votes
2answers
447 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
256 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?
11
votes
3answers
450 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Jupiter FM - What are practical and inexpensive ways for the amateur detection of signals from Jupiter, especially of the transit of her moons?

What modifications to a standard AM/FM or shortwave radio are needed in order to be able to detect radio-wave signals emitted from Jupiter? Would it be possible to detect the transit of the major ...

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