# All Questions

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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
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### Will saturn rings become a moon?

Planets form from disks of matter orbiting around a star as well as some moons form from disks of matter orbiting a planet. If this is going to happen, aproximately how much time will it take?
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### Is there any telescope on Earth that can see the lunar rovers on the moon?

If I have the right numbers, it seems to me that even Hubble telescope might barely be able to make out a carcass of a blue whale on the surface of the moon, which puts objects as small as the lunar ...
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### How to detect emission lines in optical spectra?

Is there any handy module to detect emission lines in a spectrum like one we get from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)? You can see there are many emission lines like Ha,OI in the spectrum below. ...
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### 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?
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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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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### 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 ...
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### Can any information leave a black hole?

Referring to this question, is there any information that can leave black holes? Are they causing a permanent information loss in our universe?
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### How old is our sun in galactic years?

A year is measured as the amount of time it takes Earth to orbit the sun once, a galactic year is the time it takes our sun to make one full orbit of the center of the galaxy. In galactic years, how ...
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### How do people measure the distance between the earth and the moon?

How do people measure the distance between the earth and the moon? What methods were used? Where can I find the official data?
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### What is the predominant element in the dust of the Sombrero Galaxy?

The Sombrero Galaxy contains a rather peculiar ring of dust orbiting it (seen as the dark ring on the outer edge). What is the prevalent element in this dust? Carbon?
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### What azimuth description systems are in use?

For a time, I thought Azimuth is always direction in degrees, 0 for local, geographic north, 90 for east etc. Then, trying to observe moonrise I downloaded an app that gave azimuth in values between ...
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### What is the object in this photo?

What object is in this photo? View coordinates: $47.25103 \ \ 38.81697$ Time: $2013$-$11$-$23 ~21$:$00 +4 ~UTC$ Sony $A580, \ 50mm f/1.4 15"$
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### 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 ...
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### What Causes the Large Radiation Fields Around Jupiter?

I had heard that the large radiation belts around Jupiter may be formed by liquid metallic hydrogen in (or around) Jupiter's core (which Wikipedia says haven't been observed in labs yet due to the ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
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### How do stellar temperatures vary?

The temperature of the surface of the Sun (photosphere) is between 4500° - 6000° Kelvin. Inside the core, it's around 15.7 million degrees Kelvin. In other types of stars (neutron stars, white ...
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### 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 ...
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How to navigate with possible maximal precision using moon phases? The Moon is the brightest celestial body seen in the night sky, and it is possible to find even through moderate clouds. So it's a ...
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### 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 ...
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### Finding the solar noon based on longitude and latitude?

Please could someone advise the best method of finding the solar noon based upon location? http://pveducation.org/pvcdrom/properties-of-sunlight/suns-position The stuff on here has been helpful but ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
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### Are any Pluto-sized objects remaining to be discovered in the Kuiper Belt?

An object approximately the same size as Pluto, Eris, was discovered only 8 years ago (in 2005). Are there any Pluto-sized objects remaining to be discovered, and if so, how far away from the Sun ...
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### Do the orbits of planets change sometimes?

Do planets sometimes wobble and get off their paths? What if an asteroid were to hit it?
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### How was Io not torn apart by tidal forces during its formation?

Jupiter's moon Io is arguably one of the most volcanically active bodies in the Solar System. The reason, according to NASA's page Scientists to Io: Your Volcanoes Are in the Wrong Place is believed ...
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### Which came first: black holes or galaxies?

In other terms, did galaxies grow around black holes at their center?
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### How do we detect if a planet has a liquid core?

In case of Earth, we have many hints about the internal structure of our planet, from what I know, the most important of which is analyzing seismic waves. Do we have any instruments to detect if ...
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### What is a White Hole?

White holes are purely hypothetical at this point and are considered only because it is assumed something like it could exist as the balance to black-holes. Reading this article seems mostly writers ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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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### What is the current accepted theory as to why Mercury, despite its size, has a similar density to Earth?

According to the NASA web page overview about Mercury, despite the planet being just a bit larger than our moon, it's density is about 98.4% of Earth's. This high density suggests a comparatively ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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? ...
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### What was the length of year 1 million years back?

We know that the universe is gradually expanding and this indirectly means that the gravitational force between sun, earth, planets and other stars (roughly anything in the universe) is gradually ...
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### Why is the interstellar medium so hot?

On this link, it states the following: "large assemblies of galaxies that are permeated by even larger amounts of diffuse gas. With temperatures of 10 million degrees or more". How are these ...
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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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### Moon orbits crossing each other

Some planets, such as Mars, have 2 or more moons. Giants, like Jupiter of Saturn have a lot of moons! How likely the orbit of one crosses another one's orbit? Is it possible for two moons to collide? ...
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### Is it possible for a moon to orbit a planet floating free in the galaxy rather than orbiting a star

This article got me thinking, can a planet hold a moon in orbit if it is just floating in the galaxy by itself not as part of a star system? Can a celestial body even qualify as a planet if it is ...
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### 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. ...
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### Why is the Earth's center still hot after millions of years? [closed]

Why didn't the center of the earth cool after millions or billions of years? What keeps it hot?
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### Which is the closest exoplanet to Earth?

The closest star to Earth (after the Sun) is well-known: Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light years away. But what about the closest exoplanet to Earth, outside of the Solar System?
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### 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?
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### Asteroids between Mars and Jupiter

Is the cluster of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter two dimensional as seen in every model of solar system shown in books or television? Or is it three dimensional as i think it should be?