11
votes
2answers
119 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
395 views

Navigation using moon phases

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
107 views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
66 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
225 views

Statistics of elements abundance in exoplanets

Recently, I encountered the concept of carbon planets - planets, which would be, unlike the Earth, formed mostly by carbon, instead of oxygen, silicon and magnesium. (I am not counting iron, which is ...
11
votes
2answers
449 views

How do we know Milky Way is a 'barred' spiral galaxy?

In reference to the question, "How can we tell that the milky way is a spiral galaxy?" The answers there clearly sum up the question asked. But Milky Way is not just a spiral galaxy. It is further ...
11
votes
1answer
389 views

What do we know about the lifecycle of the Milky Way (or any other spiral galaxy)?

I know that the Milky Way will collide with Andromeda in the distant future but based on what we know so far there is a supermassive black hole in the center of each galaxy and thus the Milky Way will ...
11
votes
1answer
144 views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
159 views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
122 views

What percent of planets are in the position that they could be viewed edge-on from Earth? (and thus able to undergo transits)

Star number 12644769 from the Kepler Input Catalog was identified as an eclipsing binary with a 41-day period, from the detection of its mutual eclipses (9). Eclipses occur because the orbital ...
11
votes
1answer
157 views

Which came first: black holes or galaxies?

In other terms, did galaxies grow around black holes at their center?
11
votes
1answer
175 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
143 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
198 views

Where might a semi proficient amateur analyst participate in meaningful astronomical efforts

I am a retired engineer that has an ongoing interest in space efforts. In my youth I did work on the Apollo program but on propulsion and vehicle thermal control: not flight dynamics. I have ...
11
votes
1answer
114 views

Mechanisms of binary/multiple star formation

What are mechanisms of binary/multiple star formation in different mass ranges (low, intermediate and high stellar masses)?
11
votes
1answer
126 views

Stars at near break-up rotation rates

Accretion discs are ubiquitous in astrophisics. As a direct corollary, they are important for the following question. Consider the following model, representing one of the most simple models for ...
11
votes
1answer
358 views

Determining effect of small variable force on planetary perihelion precession

Is there an analytical technique for determining the effect of a small variable transverse acceleration upon the rate of aspides precession (strictly not a precession but rotation of the line of ...
11
votes
1answer
250 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
249 views

Can there be an object with planetary discriminant between Ceres and Neptune?

The planetary discriminant is a measure of how dominant a body is within its region of the solar system. For (true) planets, it is $>10000$ and for dwarf planets it is $<1$. (See this answer to ...
11
votes
2answers
152 views

What is the current accepted theory as to why Titan has retained its atmosphere?

Titan (moon of Saturn) is unique in that it possesses a very thick atmosphere. However, Titan is certainly is not the largest of the moons - Ganymede being larger. What is the current accepted ...
11
votes
2answers
113 views

Subterranean Oceans On Other Planets/Planetoids: How Do Astronomers Deduce This

Recently I have been looking into planetoids in our asteroid belt and I have found one that caught my interest, Ceres. One of the main points that was said about it was that it had a subterranean ...
11
votes
2answers
284 views

How can astronomers determine the difference between “hydrostatic equilibrium” and “just happens to be spherical”?

This is relevant for the definition of a dwarf planet. I presume the answer will be, well, if we can tell the mass of the body and guess the material. I don't find this very satisfactory because ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

What if Earth and Moon revolved around each other like Pluto and Charon?

What would be different for us if Earth and Moon revolved around each other like Pluto and Charon do?
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How can we avoid needing a leap year/second?

Given the Earth's current speed around the sun and current rate & axis of rotation, what is the best way to keep time to avoid a leap year? How many hours should we have in the day and days in a ...
10
votes
3answers
593 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
3answers
803 views

Where does the Milky Way end?

I was reading this article and it says the following: Researchers measured the mass of the Milky Way and found that our galaxy is approximately half the weight of a neighbouring galaxy known as ...
10
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
700 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
2answers
2k views

Is it possible to witness a star's death?

Given that the stars' distances to Earth are measured in light-years (for example, Sirius is 8.6 light-years away from Earth), what we are seeing as Sirius now is actually its state 8.6 years ago, ...
10
votes
3answers
189 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
1answer
644 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 lay out the universe. Though I've searched around and found it hard to get a good view of what the universe ...
10
votes
5answers
626 views

Can impact craters on the moon act like giant radio telescopes?

Could large craters on the moon be used as reflective lenses for radio signals? Acting like a large radio telescope reflecting radio waves to a satellite positioned over the crater.
10
votes
5answers
278 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? ...
10
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
585 views

Why is the Moon receding from the Earth due to tides? Is this typical for other moons?

After reading the Q&A Is the moon moving further away from Earth and closer to the Sun? Why? about the tides transferring energy to the Moon and pushing it from Earth, I have a question: How is ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Can dark matter be found in the shape of planets, galaxies etc.?

If dark matter has gravity just like normal matter, does that mean it can also form planets, solar systems and so on? Any answer will be appreciated.
10
votes
1answer
232 views

How did New Horizons take such well-lit pictures of Pluto?

The photos of Pluto from New Horizons are truly beautiful. But considering that Pluto is so far away from its nearest start - our Sun - how is it so well lit up? Did the New Horizons have a massive ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

Is Sun a part of a binary system?

Does our Sun have a counterpart, i.e., is it a part of a binary-system? If so, how does the other star look like and where is it?
10
votes
4answers
343 views

Using the Sun as a Gravitational Lens

Can the Sun be used as a gravitational lens to achieve better telescopic viewing? Can this effect be practically used to view celestial objects?
10
votes
2answers
668 views

Why haven't Earth and Venus got any tiny moons? Or have they?

Why haven't some meteoroids gotten caught in Earth's or Venus' orbit? AFAIK most meteors are tiny fragments from comets. Shouldn't some comet tail sometime have passed Earth orbit at velocities ...
10
votes
2answers
252 views

Does any iron fuse in stars before they go supernova?

I understand that iron and all heavier elements consume more energy to produce than they make, and that is what eventually leads to a supernova. I also understand that a lot of the heavier elements ...
10
votes
1answer
325 views

Why are there no green stars?

There are red stars, and orange stars, and yellow stars, and blue stars, and they are all understandable save the fact that there is a 'gap': There are no green stars. Is this because of hydrogen's ...
10
votes
3answers
519 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
590 views

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. ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Why do comets appear to have a continuous supply of dust?

Comets orbiting the sun have a tail that points away from the Sun, due to the solar wind. (Strictly speaking, a comet can have both a type I tail - ion tail, and a type II tail - a dust tail. This ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is the solar system often shown as a 2D plane?

Whenever I have learned about the solar system I always see the orbits displayed as a virtually flat plane. Are all of the orbits in the solar system really like this? If so, why? It seems like a ...
10
votes
2answers
290 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
275 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
142 views

How quickly does a supernova heat up/expand?

Suppose there's a star out there that's a lot more massive than the Sun. Suppose further that orbiting this star is a planet not unlike Earth. Water, oxygen, civilization, and all. Now the star ...
10
votes
2answers
67 views

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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