Questions tagged [terminology]

Questions regarding specific terms, names, or naming conventions.

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2
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1answer
81 views

What is the difference between the terms collision and merger? How are they used differently in Astronomy?

We often hear of mergers of two stellar objects but we also sometimes talk about these or much smaller objects like planets or asteroids colliding. What is the actual differences between Astronomy and ...
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4answers
226 views

What are the differences between astronomy and cosmology?

Are astronomy and cosmology same? If not, what are the differences? And which one is greater in terms of subject area?
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1answer
164 views

The sun “burns” hydrogen and even has “campfires” on it, but has anyone calculated a rate of actual chemical burning on the Sun?

Answers to Hydrogen burning vs Hydrogen fusing explain that in astrophysics "burning" generally refers to nuclear fusion or at least nuclear reactions1, and information at Why didn't we ...
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Hydrogen burning vs Hydrogen fusing

Does the term "Hydrogen burning" mean the same as "Hydrogen fusing" in astronomy? If not, then what is the product of "Hydrogen burning"? Assume the product of "...
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About the formation of ultra diffuse galaxies (UDGs), what are “failed L∗ galaxies”?

Recent studies show that ultra diffuse galaxies or UDGs were formed by tidally disturbed dwarf galaxies and failed L∗ galaxies. So I've been searching for the failed L∗ galaxies but can't find what it ...
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3answers
146 views

How is phase defined in a binary orbit with eccentricity?

Are orbital phases of the black spot in the figure measured from some angle or time/period? Usually, how is phase=0 defined? It is relative to the line of apses perhaps with phase=0 at periastron? Any ...
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2answers
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Is the difference between LIGO & Virgo and their “Advanced” versions really generational, or were these just planned incremental upgrades?

I just learned the term "third generation gravitational wave detector" in answers to What would a kHz gravitational wave detector look like? (mountains on millisecond magnetars) How would it ...
3
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1answer
267 views

What exactly is “the rotating lighthouse model” in the context of a double pulsar?

The introduction to Testing the rotating lighthouse model with the double pulsar system PSR J0737-3039A/B (open access) says: The double pulsar system PSR J0737-3039A/B was discovered by Burgay et al....
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1answer
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Is Sofia a radio telescope proper?

I usually think of SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy as an infrared optical telescope: SOFIA uses a 2.5 m (8.2 ft) reflector telescope, which has an oversized, 2.7 m (8.9 ft)...
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49 views

How can the CMB have a “monopole anisotropy”?

Wikipedia's Cosmic Microwave Background (CMBR) radiation monopole anisotropy (ℓ = 0) says When ℓ = 0, the ${\displaystyle Y(\theta ,\varphi )}{\displaystyle Y(\theta ,\varphi )}$ term reduced to 1, ...
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1answer
618 views

What is the mnemonic reason behind b being galactic latitude? (in the Galactic Coordinates frame)

I'm not sure if this is a question that has been posted before, and I'm also not sure if the answer is really mnemonic. If that's the case, I'd like to understand why we assigned $b$ to latitude ...
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2answers
100 views

How are image credits expressed in Astronomy presentations?

Sorry if this is a stupid question. I'm preparing an astronomy presentation, and I want to make sure I give credits where credits are due. But I see credits appear in different formats, for example: ...
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What is the antonym of “closest approach”?

The distance from Earth to Mars, during their closest approach, is about 55 million kilometers. At their furthest apart, that distance would be about 401 million kilometers. Distance at closest ...
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1answer
87 views

Defining a nautical mile

Astronomy is new to me so my question might be stupid: I read that a nautical mile is defined as one minute of latitude along any line of longitude. What if it was the other way round, i.e. one minute ...
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1answer
79 views

Are there actual asteroids in the Oort cloud?

This answer to At what annual rate are new exoplanets being recognized? How does it compare to new asteroids? shows that the rate of new asteroid discovery is roughly two orders of magnitude higher ...
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1answer
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Timing based on upper or lower part of sun/moon

When you time an astronomical event, such as the moon/sun rising above the horizon, do you note the time when the the first sliver breeches the horizon or when the bottom of the moon/sun just becomes ...
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1answer
190 views

How many solar system objects that can really qualify as a KBO are likely to enter Pluto's Hill sphere each day?

A comment below Which celestial body is able to come closest to Pluto? says that Technically, many, many small Kuiper belt objects enter Pluto's Hill Sphere (or sphere of influence SOI) every day. ...
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2answers
129 views

How does one go about submitting a name for a newly-discovered lunar crater?

Suppose I discover an uncatalogued crater on the lunar surface, and decide to name it. How would I submit my proposed name to the IAU?
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How does one go about naming a lunar crater? [duplicate]

Suppose I discover an uncatalogued crater on the lunar surface, and decide to name it. How would I submit my proposed name to the IAU?
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1answer
90 views

What happened to the 2017 proposal on redefining planethood? Is this information available?

In 2017, Alan Stern et al. submitted a geophysical planet definition to the IAU for review which states “A planet is a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has ...
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1answer
80 views

Launch windows for Venus transit; how to convert heliocentric longitudes to date?

Being a bit familiar with celestial mechanics, I know that the Hohmann transfer orbit is the quickest way to transfer between two circular orbits of different radii around a central body in the same ...
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1answer
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Does “spectral type” and “stellar classification” refer to the same thing?

Should the tags stellar-classification and spectral-type be merged? has been asked in meta two weeks ago. It requires some careful consideration but so far no response has been forthcoming, so I'm ...
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“Periapsis” or “Periastron”?

I was taught from Bate Mueller and White, that the proper terms for the closest and furthest points and distances from a body in orbit around another unspecified body are "periapsis" and &...
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Do our sun and moon have names?

We seem to have named every moon orbiting other planets. Why haven't we named our own moon? And for that matter, why doesn't our sun have a name since we name or number stars?
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Are falling evaporating bodies (FEBs) and exocomets the same thing? How does one know they're falling and evaporating?

Looking for a (short) list of comets with heliocentric escape velocity I stumbled upon Wikipedia's exocoments which like exoplanets, are bound to other stars. I should have been looking for "...
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196 views

What exactly is a Hamiltonian telescope? Is this one?

This comment on the current answer to Why is this telescope so short? How hard is it to make such a fast primary? says In this forum topic Borisov appears to call it an f/1.5 Hamiltonian. Wikipedia'...
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1answer
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Does the Honey moon have a precession problem?

In Steven Colbert's interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson after about 03:16 the following is explained: But wait, all the moons - all the full moons of the year have ...
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What are “non-Keplerian” orbits? What are some familiar examples in our solar system, and can some still be closed?

This excellent answer to Forms of stellar orbits around the galactic center invokes the following concepts: non-Keplerian orbits closed orbits I have a fairly good idea what these mean and so might ...
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1answer
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Is there an antonym for 'transit', i.e. the transit of a celestial body through the meridian

I'm writing software to calculate the rising, transit, and setting of a body on the celestial sphere for a specific location and date. It seems to me that the opposite of transit, at least in the case ...
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1answer
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What exactly are “H30α and He30α images”? (ALMA)

I ran across this paper's title η Carinae: high angular resolution continuum, H30α and He30α ALMA images (arXiv) and see that the body of the paper also mentions "H40α, H30α and H29α". What ...
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1answer
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Is lithium considered a metal in astronomy?

My lecture notes are conflicting on this issue so I seek definitive clarification. In Astronomy, are metals either A: the elements which form within stars (i.e., not Big Bang nucleosynthesis, where ...
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2answers
103 views

Can a pulsar also be a magnetar?

I know this is a simplistic question, but I cannot find a straight answer... Also, is it possible most or all neutron stars are magnetars and/or pulsars? It's just hard to see all of their properties ...
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Are the terms “PG 1159 star” and “pre-white dwarf” synonymous?

Are the terms "pre-white dwarf" (as in Gies et al. 2020, "Spectroscopic Detection of the Pre-White Dwarf Companion of Regulus") and "PG 1159 star" (as described, e.g. in ...
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1answer
738 views

What do the words “p-type” and “s-type” mean?

As explained in various sources (such as that answer), a planet in an s-type orbit orbits one of the stars of a binary star system, whereas a planet in a p-type orbit orbits both stars. A synonym for ...
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1answer
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Clarification of radio spectrum terminology

For a radio spectrum, when is it called thermal emission, synchrotron emission, self-absorbed synchrotron emission and inverted spectrum? They are all power-law and their difference is power-law index?...
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2answers
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What does “additive fringing from the (multiplicative) twilights” mean?

The question How can I make the fringing pattern visible in my flat (twilight) images for filter i? includes: I have a bunch of twilight flats that have been preprocessed (dark, bias, overscan etc.)...
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Why is the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (WFIRST) coronagraph considered “beyond-state-of-the-art”?

After about 01:30 in the NASA video NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope: Broadening Our Cosmic Horizons the narrator says: To deepen its study of exoplanets ...
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1answer
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When was Hubble tension first noticed? When was this term first used?

When was Hubble tension first noticed? When was this term first used? Who used this term for the first time?
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2answers
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Why are helium resonance lines called “resonance lines”?

Examples of the use of the term: Formation of the helium extreme-UV resonance lines On the Formation of the Resonance Lines of Helium in the Sun (unpaywalled) Formation of the helium EUV resonance ...
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1answer
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Do Astronomers really never call Lagrangian points “libration points”?

In this answer to Who called the Lagrangian points as “Libration” points and and why was the terminology “Libration” used? I described my feeling that Lagrangian points were also sometimes called &...
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1answer
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Astronomical Term *Mezzocielo*

What is the name of the point of intersection of the great circle passing through the celestial north pole P and the Zenith Z, with the celestial equator? (Point T in the figure) In Italian this point ...
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1answer
85 views

What exactly is a “conclusive association” in Astronomy?

Phys.org's Astronomers use slime mold model to reveal dark threads of the cosmic web says A computational approach inspired by the growth patterns of a bright yellow slime mold has enabled a team of ...
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What is the opposite of the vernal point?

The equator and the ecliptic cross at two nodes. One of those nodes is the vernal point. What is the other one called?
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1answer
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Is there a distinction between NEOs and near-Earth asteroids? Is there a difference?

My "real question" is in Space Exploration Meta (neo (near-earth-object) and near-earth-asteroid tags, do we need both?), but I think that astronomers will be able to help understand the situation and ...
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77 views

When we say a variable star is “fainting” does it mean something more or different than “dimming” or “fading”?

A comment below the question Does the current “fainting” of Betelgeuse show any spectral trends that differ from it's normal variability? suggests that "dimming" would be a better term, but I have a ...
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1answer
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Is there a general term used to identify the high flat features within Noctis Labyrinthus on Mars?

At the western end of Valles Marineris, where it mets Noctis Labyrinthus (highlighted section of image) there are a series of flat geological formations between the canyons. Is there a unique term ...
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1answer
161 views

What are other names for planetoids that aren't orbiting a solar system, but hurtling through space?

I'm trying to think of a good word for an asteroid/planetoid that has no stable orbit but has been ejected from a system and is passing close to a sun. Any help?
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1answer
100 views

What do you call it when a satellite goes once around its planet?

When a planet or a satellite turns around itself, its called a rotation. When a planet goes once around the Sun, it's called a revolution. What do you call it when a satellite goes once around its ...
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What is an “Off Rowland-circle Telescope”?

The NASA Goddard news item NASA to Demonstrate New Star-Watching Technology with Thousands of Tiny Shutters says: The technology, called the Next-Generation Microshutter Array (NGMSA), will fly for ...
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1answer
989 views

Is intrastellar commonly used by astronomers to refer to objects within our solar system?

The CNET article Interstellar comet Borisov looks ordinary, making Oumuamua even weirder says: A paper published Monday in Nature Astronomy lays out the early data on Borisov, which is just the ...