10
votes
2answers
106 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
114 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
51 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
44 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
145 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
105 views

Which came first: black holes or galaxies?

In other terms, did galaxies grow around black holes at their center?
10
votes
1answer
105 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
137 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
160 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
635 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
177 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
3answers
304 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?
9
votes
3answers
114 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
184 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?
9
votes
3answers
298 views

How do we know the big bang didn't happen in an existing universe?

I understand the evidence for the big bang (expansion, background radiation, etc), but how do we know that it was the start of the universe? Why couldn't it have occurred in an existing, but very ...
9
votes
2answers
112 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?
9
votes
3answers
394 views

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, ...
9
votes
2answers
109 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?
9
votes
3answers
397 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
283 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
141 views

What is the ultimate fate of a cluster of galaxies?

We're fairly aware clusters of galaxies drift apart due to space expansion, which will drive them out of each other's cosmic event horizon eventually, leaving them separate, alone, each a single ...
9
votes
2answers
202 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
212 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
186 views

Will new stars stop forming at some point of time?

New stars keep forming in the universe thanks to all the nebulae. Now, we need Hydrogen to form stars and there would a time when all the hydrogen will get exhausted, and no more star formation will ...
9
votes
3answers
979 views

Why isn't Earth a perfect sphere? [closed]

In general, almost everyone describes Earth as an perfect sphere, but in reality it isn't a perfect sphere. Is there any specific reason why Earth is not perfect sphere ?
9
votes
2answers
102 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
208 views

How can the Earth's rotation speed up? [closed]

It is known as a fact that Earth's rotation is slowing every year, that's why we sometimes have 61 seconds long minutes. In the Java documentation of Time : ...
9
votes
2answers
172 views

How are Galaxy Super Clusters Generated

I have seen pictures of clusters of galaxies, usually used in regards to theories of dark matter and galaxy formations. One of the most famous ones has the perceived shape of a stick-figure. If I am ...
9
votes
1answer
137 views

How Does a Refractor Telescope Work?

As I understand it, the difference between a reflector and a refractor is that a reflector uses mirrors on the back to reflect the light to the secondary mirror then the secondary mirror reflects the ...
9
votes
1answer
61 views

What practical considerations are there for amateur observations of transiting exoplanets?

Obviously, I am not referring to actual viewing of the exoplanets themselves, but detecting their effects on the brightness of the light emitted from the parent star (as in the diagram below from The ...
9
votes
1answer
135 views

What happens to a star after it has become a red giant?

When our sun reaches the end of its lifetime , it will turn into a red giant. How long will it be a red giant, and what happens after a star has been a red giant? Does it turn into a planet after a ...
9
votes
1answer
43 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
99 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
131 views

What is the current accepted theory for the fate of hot Jupiters?

It is well established that one main feature of many hot jupiters is their close proximity to their parent star, usually the equivalent of being within the orbit of Mercury. So, these planets are gas ...
9
votes
1answer
140 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
117 views

Might Oort cloud comets be exchanged between solar systems?

Considering their distance from their parent stars, might Oort cloud object such as comets be exchanged between passing stars (assuming that other stars have similar Oort clouds)?
9
votes
1answer
2k views

How many sun-like stars are there in the universe?

After yesterday's announcement of the Kepler telescope finding a huge amount of newly observed exoplanets, i saw a headline claiming that as much as 22% of sun like stars in the universe have planets ...
9
votes
2answers
182 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
158 views

Calculate Distance To Stars

I was just watching a lecture from Carl Sagan. He talked about figuring out the distance to the stars; it got me interested in learning more about the subject. As far as I know, the Inverse square ...
9
votes
1answer
82 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
137 views

Where is all the antimatter?

The universe supposedly started off with equal parts matter and antimatter and they are said to annihilate each other. Also, nature is famous for it's balance between everything. So all we see is ...
9
votes
2answers
71 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
88 views

Is the surface of TrES-2b actually dark?

The exoplanet TrES-2b is known as the darkest planet ever found, reflecting <1% of the light that hits it. What does it mean in respect to the surface? What would we see below the atmosphere of ...
8
votes
6answers
638 views

Why don't we have 2 Summers and 2 Winters?

Due to Earth's elliptical orbit, its distance from Sun varies by almost 5 million Kilometers (147 million Kilometers at closest point & 152 million Kilometers at farthest point, i.e. almost 3% of ...
8
votes
5answers
174 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? ...
8
votes
3answers
81 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?
8
votes
3answers
361 views

Why are orbits elliptical instead of circular?

Why do planets rotate around a star in a specific elliptical orbit with the star at one of it's foci? Why isn't the orbit a circle?
8
votes
1answer
128 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
269 views

Layout of the universe

I've been working on a space game in my spare time, and lately I've been thinking on how to layout the universe. Though I searched around and found it hard to get a good view of what the universe ...
8
votes
3answers
222 views

Is the rotation of the Sun and the rotation/orbit of the Moon around the Earth a coincidence?

While looking at sunspot information in connection with Amateur Radio, I found that the Sun rotates on a period from 27 days to 31 days. Its rotation is differential, at the equator it spins at a ...

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