Questions tagged [planet]

Questions on astronomical objects orbiting a star massive enough to be rounded, not massive enough to cause fusion, and which have cleared its orbit of planetesimals.

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53
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5answers
33k views

How many planets are there in this solar system?

So, in school (that's a long time age) they have been teaching us there are 9 planets in our solar system. Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto But every now and then I keep ...
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Why hasn't the “9th Planet” been detected already?

In the comments to this question, there was considerable doubt placed as to the subject of if the so called "9th planet" really exists. That wasn't really the intent of the previous question, so I ask ...
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9th planet location?

I've seen a number of news reports indicating there is likely a 9th planet in our Solar System, something with an orbital period of between 10k-20k years, that is 10 times Earth's mass. I haven't seen ...
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3answers
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Did I see another planet?

A couple days ago, I zoomed in with my 30x optical zoom camera, and after some exposure adjustments, a bright star in the night sky turned into this: Are those other planets or other stars? Or is ...
34
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1answer
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Considering our methods of exploration, how likely is it that there are unfound planets (not dwarf planets) in our solar system?

I think it's probably unlikely that there are more planets between Mercury and Mars, but out from Jupiter, there's lots of empty space between the planets. Could there be some small planet hidden out ...
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Can small gas planets exist?

Most of the known gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, etc.) are huge. They are even called "gas giants". is it possible to exist a gas planet around the size of Earth? If yes, why; if no, why?
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Why do (most of) the planets rotate counterclockwise, i.e. the same way the Sun does?

Referring to the mechanisms explaining the solar system formation and to the initial rotation of the gaseous cloud that collapsed, I understand easily why the planets orbit the Sun the same way this ...
24
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Is it odd that our Sun has so many planets?

The internet is abuzz with the new evidence of the possible ninth planet in our Solar System. With those nine objects, the asteroid belt, the Kuiper belt, and everything else in our Solar System - the ...
23
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4answers
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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 ...
22
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2answers
13k views

Why do the planets orbit in the same direction?

Theoretically, planets would have an approximately equal chance of going one way in their orbit or another but in reality, this is not the case (at least in our solar system). Why is this?
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Does this smartphone photo show Mars just below the Sun?

I live in Essex, England (51.7678° N, 0.0878° E). On 25 July 2019 (hottest day ever in the UK, btw), 06:43 BST, I took this smartphone photo of the Sun. Is that white dot just below and left of the ...
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2answers
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How bright would the sun appear from the hypothetical Planet Nine proposed by Caltech?

Theoretical Planet Nine, proposed by Caltech's Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, is said to have a 15-20 thousand year orbit. Approximately how bright would the sun appear from Planet Nine aphelion ...
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2answers
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How did Mars come to have a 24 hour 39 minute day?

Mercury rotates three times for every two revolutions around the Sun, apparently due to a gravitational resonance with the Sun.Venus takes about 225 days to rotate, and rotates in the opposite ...
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2answers
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What physical features determine if a planet is a major, minor or dwarf planet?

Like many, when I was growing up, we always were taught, hence always learned that there were 9 planets. However, recently, decisions were made and all of a sudden there were 8 major planets and a ...
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3answers
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Why does a planet rotate and revolve?

Why do planets rotate and revolve in the universe?
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3answers
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How do you call it when two celestial bodies come as close to each other as they will in their current orbits?

On Earth, we say Mars is in opposition when it is 180º from the Sun, which also marks the times when Mars and Earth come closest to each other. Is there a specific name for such proximity events? For ...
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4answers
2k views

Doesn't gravity attract objects in space until they collide?

If the formula to calculate the force of gravity between two objects is: $$F = GM_1M_2/r^2,$$ why do planets stay in orbit? Or is there another formula at work?
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2answers
619 views

Hypothetical trans-Neptunian planets orbiting the Sun

The planet HD 106906 b was found at 650 AU from its home star, a star not so different from the Sun. Fomalhaut b is also a young planet that is orbiting very far away from its star. These two planets ...
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1answer
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How do/did we figure out that planets move in orbits?

I've learned that planets move in orbits around the Sun, but I really don't know how I would come to this conclusion myself. I've only seen planets in the sky a couple times (knowingly), and I am ...
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3answers
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Does a planet's mass or gravity affect the height of it's mountains?

According to this Wikipedia page, the top five highest mountains on Mars (and the highest on Venus) are all taller than Mount Everest (and Mauna Kea as measured from the ocean floor). Does a planet's ...
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2answers
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Kepler space telescope undetected planets

The Kepler space telescope detects planets based on the dip in brightness caused by planets moving past the star. Wouldn’t that mean that there are an unknown amount of planets that have an orbit ...
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2answers
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Could the 9th planet be virtual?

Astronomers recently claim that there is evidence for a 9th planet. As far as I understood it, this is mainly based on coinciding orbital parameters of a few Kuiper belt objects. Could the 9th planet ...
17
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2answers
499 views

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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2answers
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What reason is there to doubt the existence of the hypothesised planet Tyche in the far distant solar system?

Please note, I do not necessarily believe in its existence, just after a scientific (hence, non-Wikipedia) reasoning to doubt the planet's existence, other than the "we would have seen it" argument. ...
17
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1answer
375 views

How did scientists determine an estimate of the number of planets greater than Sedna's size to exist in the Inner Oort Cloud?

In the article, New Dwarf Planet Found at Solar System's Edge, Hints at Possible Faraway 'Planet X' (Wall, 2014) where they report on research and observations performed by astronomers that discovered ...
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3answers
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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?
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2answers
574 views

How long should it take for us to observationally determine if Caltech's Planet Nine is really there?

Caltech just released a report that says there is possibly a large (10 earth mass) planet in a remote orbit (10 - 20 thousand year) that explains a lot of observations of Kuiper Belt objects. How long ...
15
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4answers
550 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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
15
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3answers
533 views

Planets and Pluto? Neptune?

If one of the rules to be a planet is that it needs to clear ALL objects from their orbit, does this also make Neptune a non-planet? Since it has thus far failed to clear Pluto (and based on an answer ...
15
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1answer
319 views

Any possibility for life on moons of planets in our Solar System

We all focused on our moon, to find water or life, or any thing related to life. But my question is, is there any chance for life in moons of other planets in our solar system, others have too many ...
15
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2answers
379 views

Characteristics of the first planets in the Universe?

What would have the very first planets looked like, based on their most likely chemical compositions? For example: Were they mostly grey gas giants with atmospheres of hydrogen and helium, ...
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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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1answer
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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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5answers
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Does the gravity of the planets affect the orbit of other planets in our solar system?

When one planet passes near another during its trip around the sun, does their gravitational pull is strong enough to disrupt noticeably each other's orbit ?
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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?
14
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1answer
375 views

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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2answers
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What is the current theory for the formation of the Earth's Moon?

Given that the Earth and Moon are often said in the literature to have very similar geochemistry, what is the current theory as to how the Earth's Moon formed?
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2answers
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How can clouds form in Jupiter's atmosphere of Hydrogen and Helium?

Here is a graphic of cloud layers of Jupiter (source: Wikipedia): There are three distinct cloud layers of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide, and water. The temperature and pressure conditions seem to ...
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2answers
1k views

Is it Possible for Planetary Bodies To Exist In Close Proximity Without Adverse Effects?

There are several sci-fi movies where planetary bodies are shown in the sky in order to indicate that the characters are on an alien planet. A good example is in Predators (2010): Is it actually ...
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5answers
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When will all eight planets in our solar system align?

Ignoring expansion of the universe, entropy, decaying orbits, and interference from any bodies colliding with or otherwise interfering with their orbits, will the eight planets known planets in our ...
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2answers
674 views

Open problems in astronomy that an amateur (with a PhD in some other field) would have a chance of solving?

What are some open problems in astronomy that an amateur would have a chance of solving? Suppose the amateur has a PhD in some other field, owns a basic telescope, a set of filters, diffraction ...
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4answers
263 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 ...
14
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1answer
226 views

Do planetary rings have geometric bounds?

Are there any bounds on where a planetary ring can form and maintain orbit relative to the planet? Do they have to be in a circular equatorial orbit? Is there a min or max altitude, say with respect ...
14
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1answer
373 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 ...
12
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2answers
740 views

Is there a ninth planet?

After Pluto's demotion as a planet, we have currently eight planets in our solar system. But Sun's gravitational pull can be felt well beyond Pluto, so is it possible to have a ninth planet beyond ...
12
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1answer
338 views

Changes to Earth's orbit

Any time a spacecraft comes in close proximity to a planet and if the spacecraft has the right angle then it is able to use the planet's velocity to move itself further into space. According to ...
12
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1answer
373 views

How would parallax affect an object at 200-1000 AU (for example, the 9th planet)?

We know from this question that an object is hypothesized to be at between 200-1000 AU that is large enough to detect, known now as the 9th planet. It should move about 40 arcseconds per year. It ...
12
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3answers
527 views

Why are planets spherical?

I am a complete novice when it comes to astronomy, but someone asked me the above question casually. It seems as though planets are all roughly spherical, whereas other celestial bodies aren't ...
12
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1answer
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Why do planets and satellites in the Solar system look so wildly different if they came from more or less the same matter?

First, the planets. We have Mercury, which is rocky, no atmosphere. But then we have Venus, which is completely different: thick atmosphere, very hot, geologically active. Then Earth - blue, full of ...

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