Questions tagged [terminology]

Questions regarding specific terms, names, or naming conventions.

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2 answers
148 views

Why do we not call black holes black stars or dark stars?

I've never understood why the term black holes are widely used to describe what is actually a black star or dark star. I mean why name something just because of its extreme space curvature effects? In ...
2 votes
1 answer
58 views

What are the differences between different types of flux density in radio astronomy?

I am new to radio astronomy and have started to analyze some radio observational data of pulsars recently. I am wondering about the differences between "peak flux density", "integrated ...
19 votes
4 answers
5k views

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 ...
8 votes
2 answers
455 views

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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
170 views

What exactly is an aerolite?

I have found definitions calling it a stony metiorite, calling it a meteor of silicate, a granite meteorite, or even calling it a metallic rock from space and more. What is the actual definition?
0 votes
1 answer
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Following Meeus's Astronomical Algorithms for the Calculation of JD

For the Calculation of Julian Day (JD), I followed Chapter 7 of Meeus's Astronomical Algorithms. I could get the numbers mentioned in Example 7.a and 7.b. On the basis of these methodology, proceeded ...
24 votes
3 answers
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Is the Big Bang a theory or a model?

I ask this because someone mentioned ‘it isn't a theory, it's a model’ in the comments in an old question of mine: Is the expansion of the universe proof of the big bang? I guess defining terms is ...
3 votes
1 answer
64 views

Is "monochromatic source" different than "monochromator" in astronomical instrumentation?

I got a comment to replace "monochromator" by "monochromatic source" for a paper on an astronomical instrument. The latter seems less specific for no reason. Is there an agreement ...
2 votes
2 answers
67 views

Is there a term for a Venus visibility period

Is there a term for the period of time when Venus is first visible in the evening to when it switches to being the "morning star", or vice versa? For example, as depicted in the image below,...
3 votes
2 answers
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How many constellations in the Zodiac?

The astronomical zodiac contains a bunch of constellations along the ecliptic. Some sources say there are 13 constellations in the astronomical zodiac. Other sources claim there are 12. According to ...
1 vote
1 answer
94 views

A night caused by an eclipse

Is there a term or a name for the darkness caused when a planet eclipses its moon? For example; if people lived on Titan, a small portion of the near sides lunar day would be eclipsed or partially ...
3 votes
2 answers
317 views

What is an "Off Rowland-circle Telescope"? Are there "On Rowland-circle Telescope" as well?

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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
203 views

Movement of stars over long periods of time

When the Great Pyramid was built, one long sloping tunnel was aimed at a particular star, which could be seen by a person at the bottom of that tunnel on just one night of the year. Today that star is ...
2 votes
4 answers
449 views

Terminology for empty space at the edge of the observable universe?

Is there a name for a point at the edge of the observable universe at which there is no visible matter, that appears completely dark? I'm thinking something like "empty space", but that could equally ...
4 votes
3 answers
136 views

Orbital terminology for satellites relative to one another

Basic question, but I'm trying to describe a planetary system and coming up short on vocabulary. Do either of the following exist?: A word for the closest pass between two satellites orbiting the ...
5 votes
1 answer
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Is there a word or short phrase that denotes the apparently moving part of the lunar limb?

Between new moon and full moon, the moon's disc as viewed from the earth is bounded by a semicircular arc on its right and an arc on its left that moves to the right until at full moon it forms the ...
2 votes
1 answer
156 views

Why is it called "The LOFAR 'superterp'"? What is a terp, and what's so super about this one?

Wikipedia's Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) includes the image below with the caption: The LOFAR core ("superterp") near Exloo, Netherlands. The bridges give an idea of the scale. Question: ...
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

14,000 square degrees

The DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys says it produces a model of “the 14,000 square degrees of extragalactic sky visible from the northern hemisphere”. But I thought the whole celestial sphere (like any ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Is it still called an orbital resonance if the ratio is irrational?

Previously, I asked At what point are orbital resonances no longer "ordered" but "chaotic?", and received an answer from @CarlWitthoft: Perhaps if the calculated fraction had an ...
8 votes
2 answers
772 views

At what point are orbital resonances no longer "ordered" but "chaotic?"

Orbital resonances are typically in small valued integer ratios, like 2:1, 3:2, or 4:7. However, there are some resonances whose ratios have large reduced values, including the 73:69 Naiad:Thalassa ...
4 votes
1 answer
507 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 ...
1 vote
0 answers
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How does one think about optical depth in the context of gravitational microlensing? Is it measured or deduced from observations? Used for planning?

This excellent answer to Which studies prior to 2018 "claimed to find evidence of extragalactic planets in the Andromeda galaxy"? Which instrument was used? introduces the technique of "...
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

How do I say the luminosity class aloud?

I have need to say the spectral type of a star for a poster presentation I'm making, which includes the luminosity class. However, I've been unable to determine the standard way of doing so, and ...
3 votes
1 answer
157 views

Are the dispersion directions of the prism and the grating in Hubble WFC3 UVIS G280 perpendicular? Can we call this a "grism"? With cross-disparsion?

Prologue From Into the UV: A precise transmission spectrum of HAT-P-41b using Hubble's WFC3/UVIS G280 grism: The UVIS grism, however, comes with several quirks that make it difficult to observe with ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Envelope Enrichment?

While I was researching about planet formation, I repeatedly came across the term envelope enrichment. What does this mean? I searched it up and looked at many websites, but no helpful definitions ...
9 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
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Did a watch company really try to sue radio astronomers for using the word "pulsar"? If so, which astronomers?

After about 48:37 in the really wonderful video Jocelyn Bell Burnell Special Public Lecture: The Discovery of Pulsars (linked below) Dr. Bell Burnell describes the ...
11 votes
3 answers
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What's the meaning of virial in Astronomy, and in particular the expression "a virialized cluster of galaxies"?

The virial theorem relates the kinetic energy of a system to the total potential energy of the system: $ \Delta K = -\frac{1}{2}\Delta V $ so it has lots of uses in mechanics, thermodynamics and ...
14 votes
4 answers
5k views

Milky Way vs Milky Way Galaxy

I saw this question on Quizlet which said: What is the difference between the Milky Way and the Milky Way Galaxy? And the answer was: The Milky Way is a fairly narrow band of faint diffuse light ...
3 votes
2 answers
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Is there a term for asteroseismology as applied to giant planets?

Giant planets such as Jupiter have oscillations which enable analyses using the techniques of asteroseismology, for example Gaulme et al. (2011) detected global modes on Jupiter via radial velocity ...
3 votes
1 answer
157 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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
365 views

Is there an established distinction between a geyser and a cryovolcano in solar system bodies?

Is there an established distinction between a geyser and a cryovolcano in the context of cold solar-system bodies such as the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, or Kuiper belt objects (e.g. Pluto)? Both ...
3 votes
1 answer
311 views

Why do some call the no-hair conjecture the no-hair theorem?

This excellent answer to Why would a black hole's magnetic hair being short-lived not violate the no-hair conjecture, but long-lived hair would? How long is “long-lived”? has got me thinking because ...
-2 votes
1 answer
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Why are white dwarfs being classified as compact objects instead of black dwarfs?

Why are white dwarfs being classified as compact objects instead of black dwarfs? As a black dwarf is the end stage of a white dwarf.
8 votes
1 answer
453 views

What is a radio "homology telescope" and is the 500m dish in China one?

This question is about design aspects of large radio telescope dishes which allow them to flex under the influence of gravity as they change elevation angle, and still maintain good optical ...
1 vote
0 answers
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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 "...
2 votes
4 answers
774 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?
3 votes
2 answers
871 views

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 ...
17 votes
2 answers
3k views

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 "...
3 votes
1 answer
223 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 ...
2 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
379 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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
281 views

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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
391 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....
2 votes
1 answer
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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)...
5 votes
2 answers
7k views

What is "emission measure"?

Many papers mention emission measure, and some of them give the expression of EM, BUT there is no clear definition of EM. My question is what EM is on earth? Its unit is supposed to be cm-3. How to ...
6 votes
1 answer
178 views

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?...
2 votes
0 answers
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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, ...