Questions tagged [light]

Questions regarding electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum.

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8
votes
3answers
244k views

Star like light moving in the sky, what could it be? [closed]

I was camping this weekend away from the city, so my friends and I decided to spend one of the nights watching the sky, since it's impossible to see anything around where we live. After a little while,...
25
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6answers
25k views

Is the light we see from stars extremely old?

Our nearest star Proxima Centauri is 4.243 light years away from Earth. Does that mean we are seeing light that is 4.243 years old everyday?
20
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5answers
24k views

By putting a mirror in space, would we be able to see into the past?

I only ask this because of how fast light travels. The question remains in the title. Why, or why not, would this work?
2
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2answers
195 views

V838 Monocerotis "light-echo" images morphed into nice video, but why so few original images?

This NYTimes video shows what I think is a series of real Hubble images which have been "morphed" artistically to appear to be continuously expanding. (also see The V838 Monocerotis Star Still Has ...
20
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4answers
3k views

How can a supermassive black hole cause so much energy to enlighten its matter when its massive gravity prevents light to escape?

To cite the German newpaper article Astronomen beobachten erwachendes Schwarzes Loch: Das Materie-Monster sitzt den Angaben zufolge im Herzen der 42 Millionen Lichtjahre entfernten Polarring-Galaxie ...
37
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2answers
8k views

Why doesn't the moon twinkle?

Stars twinkle because their light has to squeeze through several different layers of the Earth's atmosphere. So why doesn't the moon twinkle as well?
2
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1answer
230 views

Why weren't the Hubble light-echo images of V838 Monocerotis supplemented by ground telescopes?

Drawing from this answer to V838 Monocerotis “light-echo” images morphed into nice video, but why so few original images? The V838 Monocerotis expansion (not a supernova) and the observation of the ...
54
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5answers
17k views

If light has no mass, why is it affected by gravity?

Light doesn’t accelerate in a gravitational field, which things with mass would do, because light has a universally constant velocity. Why is that exception?
37
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4answers
4k views

Why does the Moon appear gray when passing between the Sun and the Earth?

Shouldn't the Moon appear as bright as a full Moon seen at midnight from Earth? The photo was taken by DSCOVR at Lagrange point 1. In the picture, The Moon appears dark gray. Of course the Earth ...
3
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3answers
873 views

How can the universe be expanding faster than speed of light? [duplicate]

So the story goes like this: A long time ago, 13.799±0.021 billion years to be exact, something happened. It was a big bang, loud explosion and universe came to existence. It grew and grew, and now ...
7
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3answers
3k views

How does gravity interact with a photon?

If photon is mass-less and gravity can interact only with matter, then how does gravity alter the trajectory of light?
2
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2answers
796 views

What is the difference between albedo, absolute magnitude or apparent magnitude?

What is the difference between albedo, absolute magnitude or apparent magnitude? I can’t really tell what’s the difference between them.
34
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3answers
10k views

What happens to the 99.9 % of the sun-rays that do not fall on any planets or any other celestial body?

I assume that about 99.9% of the sun-rays that do not fall on any planet or any other celestial body keep on traveling farther and farther unto infinity. Apparently such rays get lost. Keeping in mind ...
25
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3answers
5k views

Why can't light escape from a black hole?

I've heard that light can't escape from a black hole. Can it? If not, why?
11
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3answers
1k views

How does light affect the universe?

When light is emitted by for example a star, that star loses energy - which causes it to reduce its gravity. Then that energy begins a journey for potentially billions of years, until it reaches some ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Sunsets: Mars/Earth

I understand why our sky is blue and turns red when the sun sets or rises. I know why the sky on mars is red, but why does it turn blue during sunsets and rises? Shouldn't this actually not work due ...
11
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4answers
8k views

Why is twilight longer in summer than winter and shortest at the equinox

I recently decided to set my alarm clock to wake me up when it is "dark" out. In the end, I decided to set my clock to the earliest time that nautical sunrise is in my state (Illinois) and stick with ...
43
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5answers
10k views

Are photons aged?

If a star is at a distance of one lightyear, how old are its photons when they reach earth (from the photons’ perspective)? If time dilation is near zero at light speed, can we assume that the light ...
15
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4answers
7k views

How do scientists determine the age of stars?

I was Googling about the oldest galaxies in the Universe. Everywhere is written that their age is known by the light. Referring to this line "Since light travels at a set speed, if you look at a star ...
12
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2answers
6k views

Why is the speed of light 299,792,458 meters/sec?

Ok, I am majoring in physics (4th year) and I never understood this fundamental (kinda) question. Maybe I haven't explored it enough. For example, why does it take 8min20sec for the light from the ...
18
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1answer
1k 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 ...
4
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2answers
859 views

Why are distant galaxies not visible in the observable Universe?

Assuming that the Universe is and has been expanding ever since its creation (Big Bang theory), the galaxies that are now at the 'edge' (not visible theoretically) must have been (at some point in ...
2
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2answers
254 views

If a black hole does not emit light, how can one take a picture of the black hole itself?

There's some discussion that the image composed by the Event Horizons Telescope is really just an accretion disk. To "take an image" of something, you need the light reflecting off of the surface of ...
12
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2answers
4k views

How bright is the full Earth during the lunar midnight?

At lunar midnight (i.e. the new moon as seen from Earth), the Earth is in its full phase with its entire disk in sunlight, and it is the brightest object in the lunar sky. How bright is it, and how ...
7
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1answer
285 views

How does V838 Monocerotis look today? Any subsequent light echo images, or is the party over?

This answer to the question V838 Monocerotis “light-echo” images morphed into nice video, but why so few original images? contains the following information below. There are other answers and more ...
5
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2answers
268 views

What is the actual visual characteristics of a black hole?

Is there a safe distance in which a black hole can be observed with the human eye? What is a safe distance? I have seen many computer simulated and artist renditions, and I am not sure if they ...
5
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1answer
1k views

How high does light pollution reach into the sky?

I want to know how high does light pollution typically reach into the sky straight up? Has anyone ever researched this because I wonder if being at 10000ft elevation would reduce the amount of light ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

If an event occurs at a point in space time what will an observer experience first, it's gravity or the light from it?

Let's assume a person is close enough to an object in space time to be able to observe it's gravitational effects and the light coming from it. If that object suddenly pops out of existence (...
2
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1answer
966 views

What is the faintest magnitude a telescope can see?

This website claims: The space telescope can detect objects as faint as 31st magnitude... It's referring to Hubble, but does not cite any source or math. How do you calculate the faintest (...
24
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8answers
13k views

Why can't we see distant galaxies with the naked eye?

If light keeps travelling in a straight line, why can't we see distant galaxies with the naked eye? Surely if you stared long enough, the light from them would eventually hit your eye? I apologize if ...
30
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1answer
4k views

If dark matter bends light, how do we know the stuff in the sky is where we think it is?

We measure movement, position, and many other things of an object in space because of its light and what we can measure with it. But as far as I know there's supposed to be a HUGE amount of dark ...
43
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5answers
16k views

How old is the oldest light visible from Earth?

Because light can only travel so fast, all of the light we see in the sky was emitted at a previous moment in time. So if for example we see a supernova or some other great stellar event, by the time ...
20
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6answers
3k views

Could light be dark matter?

Is it possible that light itself is dark matter? I am speaking of photons (e.g. visible light, infrared, ultraviolet, etc...). I realize light is understood to be massless, but it is obvious it at ...
17
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2answers
986 views

Problem regarding the absorption lines of the sun

Some of the wavelengths of light that are emitted from the sun will be absorbed by atoms in the outer layer of the sun and also the atmosphere of the sun, and we see this as absorption lines in the ...
16
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4answers
4k views

What is Gravitational Lensing?

What is the effect known as gravitational lensing? How does it work? What objects would be able to cause this effect?
4
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1answer
360 views

Are there any examples where the transverse doppler effect is applied in astronomy?

Are there any astronomical examples where the transverse doppler effect(Horizontal doppler effect) is applied (Derives a meaningful result)?
10
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2answers
515 views

Is there a place in the known universe that there would be no visible light from other stars/galaxies?

Is there a place in the universe where, with the naked eye, you wouldn't see any stars, galaxies or light emitting phenomena? From what I understand at some point into the far future in Earth's ...
5
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1answer
1k views

Is there light on the surface of Venus?

A simple question: is there light on the surface of Venus?
4
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0answers
175 views

What is the science behind the polar light shapes

Is there any scientific explanation that causes polar lights (aurora borealis/australis) to have their unique shapes? Specifically: Rayed Arcs Dual Bands Corona (Images on NASA Pdf) This site (by ...
3
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1answer
257 views

What is the ratio of cosmic microwave background radiation to normal radiation?

I would like to know the ratio of cosmic microwave background radiation to normal radiation in the universe. I am considering cosmic microwave background radiation to include the microwave, and any ...
3
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1answer
72 views

Beneficial astronomical uses of satellite constellations like Starlink?

Has any thought been given to software that would use predictable occultations by Earth-orbiting satellites to improve (rather than degrade) astronomical observations? Potential challenges I could ...
3
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2answers
3k views

Difference between luminosity, luminous flux, and radiant flux?

I've looked this up, and was wondering the differences between them. Luminosity is the total energy emitted by a source, in watts. However, I'm confused about luminous flux and radiant flux. Since ...
1
vote
3answers
246 views

Will we be able to see our galaxy if we travel far enough?

Will we be able to see our galaxy if we travel far enough? When we leave earth far enough, we'll be able to see Earth from distant, is it same with the galaxy? if we travel far enough, will we see the ...
14
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7answers
3k views

Does Sun have a reflection on Earth?

The new Google Maps1 presents an actual view of Earth, with the current position of Sun illuminating half part of Earth in real time. It is quite an exquisite view. My question is based on the ...
7
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1answer
382 views

How is it known that Pillars of Creation are destroyed?

We can observe Pillars of Creation with 7000 years delay, but it is destroyed only 6000 years ago. How do we know that? How the information about explosion reached the Earth before light do?
7
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1answer
1k views

When we say a galaxy is 200 million light years away, does this account for the expansion of space in the time it took it's light to reach us?

When we see a distant galaxy, the light we are watching started it's journey millions of years ago. In all that time, space has been expanding, so if the initial distance was A, right now the distance ...
6
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1answer
528 views

What is the underwater temperature of Europa?

If Europa has an oxygen atmosphere with a water mantle, is it possible that there could be life under the crust of Europa ice on the ocean where it is warmer? What could be the temperature under the ...
6
votes
2answers
339 views

What's the actual speed of electromagnetic radiation in space?

The speed of EM radiation is very slightly less than $c$, because space is not quite a vacuum. Say EM travels at $(1-\varepsilon)c$. For example, this results in a slight delay between receiving a ...
6
votes
1answer
443 views

Is the resulting light from a supernova a product of photons bouncing around in the Sun?

I was thinking about how photons formed in the centre of the Sun take quite a long time to exit the surface. And it occurred to me that at the end of a star's life (during a supernova, given that it's ...
6
votes
1answer
174 views

Time dilation on an object circling earth

How would a receiver on Earth hear a radio transmission from an object circling earth at 99% of the speed of light for 24 hours. The transmission from the object circulating would be non-stop. ...