The science dealing with objects and phenomena located beyond Earth. In particular, this applies to observations and data. At its core, astronomy is the physically informed cataloging and classifying of the contents of the universe in order to better understand what is out there.

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What is the power of the most powerful quasar found?

Trying to find an answer to this question, I came across many sources that are in complete in contradiction. For example Wikipedia states that a typical quasar has a power of $10^{40}$ watts while ...
2
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1answer
85 views

Adding matter to make galaxies bigger

What are the actual factors that play a role in the accretion of matter into galaxies? I read about Accretion Disks but I don't quite understand how they work yet.
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70 views

Deflection of light by the Sun

Can you give details of a recent experiment of deflection of light by the Sun? What is the distance from the surface of the Sun and what is the exact value of the angle of deflection?
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2answers
92 views

Direct rocky planet formation without protostellar disk?

Inspired by this question, which sort of asked what I'm asking, but emphasized a different point (and the answers accordingly addressed that). Can a rocky planet form directly from the collapse of ...
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6answers
4k views

Why are the orbits of planets in the Solar System nearly circular?

Except for Mercury, the planets in the Solar System have very small eccentricities. Is this property special to the Solar System? Wikipedia states: Most exoplanets with orbital periods of 20 ...
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1answer
123 views

What prevents stars in globular clusters from merging over time to form a black hole?

Globular clusters are apparently very very old, and the density of these clusters appears to increase as one approaches the center of a cluster. Orbits are bound to be chaotic, since there is no ...
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6answers
2k views

What methods can astronomers use to find a black hole?

How can astronomers say, we know there are black holes at the centre of each galaxy? What methods of indirect detection are there to know where and how big a black hole is?
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2answers
82 views

Sun's Right Ascension appears to be wrong in my Stellarium

The Stellarium version 0.12.4 I have shows the RA of the sun at 22.5 Hour while Google says it is 19h 4m 31s. I am confused. Please help.
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836 views

Why don't the black holes appear black in color in images of galaxies taken from HST?

According to NASA a black hole is anything but empty space. Rather, it is a great amount of matter packed into a very small area According to the documentary Space Unraveling The Cosmos about ...
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Could two identical stars revolve around each other in a common orbit if we only account for Newtonian physics?

Both a parent star and its planet revolve around the center of mass of the system, the reason we see stellar wobble. But if we take this to be true, which it is, there can be a configuration in which ...
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3answers
533 views

Why wasn't the moon visible during the day a few decades ago?

I was born in 1949. When I was young we played outside and watched the clouds and the sky a lot, and I don't remember ever seeing the moon during the day. Is the sun closer to us now so we see it more ...
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3answers
94 views

How to measure the effects of the rotation around the Sun?

It is well know that we can measure the spinning of the Earth with a Foucault pendulum. But, is there a similar experiment for the rotation of the Earth around the Sun? I would like to know if we ...
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86 views

What is the origin and nature of the “hydrogen envelope” located on the sun side of a comet coma?

It is tempting to assume the origin of the hydrogen is water vapor from the comet, in which case, what process "breaks up" the water molecule (or perhaps ammonia molecule?)? Is the hydrogen actually ...
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72 views

Calculus used by Gauss to find Ceres' position?

With very little data, the great mathematician Gauss was able to predict the exact location of where to find the asteroid Ceres. If possible I would like a reconstruction of his work, from the data ...
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279 views

What are the alternative theories of dark energy? ($w \neq -1$)

There has been a lot of related questions about dark energy around here but these are usually 2-4 years old and the closest question to mine hasn't really been answered, so I am going to proceed. ...
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267 views

Are there free data available online from cosmology (or astrophysics) experiments that anyone can analyse?

One can understand a subject better in physics by trying to solve as many problems as one can from a textbook say. When it comes to experimental physics and data analysis, no book on experimental ...
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2answers
41 views

For a planet which has a temperature gradient, hot in the center and cooler on the surface, why do we get absorption lines?

For a planet which has a temperature gradient, hot in the center and cooler on the surface, why do we see absorption lines? Similarly, why do we see emission lines if the planet is hot on the ...
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4answers
223 views

Astronomy: Are any vanished objects visible to the naked eye?

Are there any objects out there that have since vanished, but because of their distance and the travel time for light, can be seen with the naked eye? Or are those things only visible with ...
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2answers
61 views

Possible intergalactic celestial objects

We know there are rouge stars floating in intergalactic space, thought to be caused by galactic collision. What other other classes of celestial object could be found floating around in intergalactic ...
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1answer
65 views

Can life exist in intergalactic space?

A terrifying idea I think, to be so utterly alone. Do you recon life could exist in intergalactic space? A lot of cosmic radiation is shielded from us by the Milky Way's magnetic field, but the ...
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2answers
59 views

How are the distances to the most distant $\gamma$-ray bursts measured?

This question came to my mind when I read on NASA's website that an explosion (gamma ray burst, GRB 080913) took place 12.8 billion light years away from us. How do they measure such large distances?
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0answers
32 views

Classification of small extra-solar system bodies

A Small Solar System Body (SSSB) is an object in the Solar System that is neither a planet, nor a dwarf planet, nor a satellite. This encompasses all comets and all minor planets, as well as all ...
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1answer
48 views

how to measure the age of light?

We measure distances in universe by the units of light year/s or parsec. Which means distance traveled by light in one year equals one light year. Thus the lights we receive from the distant stars or ...
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What's the evidence, if any, for some local concentration(s) of dark matter in some region(s) smaller than a galaxy?

What's the evidence, if any, for some local concentration(s) of dark matter in some region(s) smaller than a galaxy? Galactic-sized--or larger--gravitating halos seem to get all the attention. I'm ...
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1answer
32 views

Prior binary star system as possible explanation of high-velocity Type II Supernovae remnants

From wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova) :- "A long-standing puzzle surrounding Type II supernovae is why the compact object remaining after the explosion is given a large velocity away ...
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1answer
364 views

BBC radiation: What is it?

I'm reading articles about blazars, and in a discussion about models concerning Blazar SEDs (Spectral Energy Densities) there are mentions of different processes: Sychrotron scattering, inverse ...
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2answers
174 views

Day/night cycle in Greenland

I have heard that in Greenland there is day for 6 months and night for 6 months. Is this true? If so, how does it happen?
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3answers
91 views

Drake's equation

Some years ago i read about this equation that helps us estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. Now, i am wondering if there are results ...
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2answers
100 views

Optically thick media

What does "optically thick media" mean? Does this property depend on the length of an enclosure? Why is the diffusion approximation for the radiative transfer equation applied to optically thick ...
4
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1answer
45 views

Absorption lines in the context of identifying elements in far away celestial objects

I understand that absorption lines are used to identify elements but how are individual absorption spectrums identified in the light that is received by a telescope?
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24 views

Mathematical calculation of probability of existence of planet similar to earth [duplicate]

Having a layman level of logic about probability ( read about it 10 years ago, so pardon if it's still not right completely) what i know that the calculation requires some knowledge about the number ...
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1answer
37 views

Factors in predictions for Tolman's Surface Brightness Test?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolman_surface_brightness_test It says: In a simple (static and flat) universe, the light received from an object drops inversely with the square of its distance, but ...
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2answers
96 views

Would it be possible to detect nuclear explosion on exoplanet?

How strong would have to be nuclear explosion on exo-planet that orbits some other star for it to be detectable outside of that system. Or it would be impossible due to amount of radiation coming from ...
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237 views

Red Giant branch and Asymptotic Giant branch

What's the difference between the RGB and the AGB? I can't seem to find an clear distinction anywhere. Thanks.
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5k views

What are good books for graduates/undergraduates in Astrophysics?

There are no book recommendations for Astrophysics here. I will write my own answer, but I am also interested in what are others' views on the question (I will NOT mark my own answer as the best one). ...
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2answers
118 views

Can a point source be located more accurately out-of-focus or in-focus?

Let's say I am taking a picture, and I know a priori that the image is of a single ideal point source of light at infinity. With a perfect imaging system in focus, the image shows an Airy disk. I ...
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0answers
22 views

Recommendations regarding high-energy astrophysical objects (AGNs, jets, etc.)

I know basic astronomy and I know a few good textbooks for general astrophysics (eg. "Introduction to Astrophysics" by Carroll and Ostlie). I also have a strong background in theoretical physics and ...
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1answer
49 views

Why 21cm line observations is more helpful compared to other radiation?

Why 21cm line observations is more helpful compared to other radiation? Is it only because of its abundance in whole universe or anything else?
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1answer
55 views

How stellar aberration is measured?

A simple calculation shows that stellar aberration due orbital motion of earth is roughly 20 arcseconds. My questions are: Practically how this small value is measured? Does this value is in the ...
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1answer
41 views

Are galaxies “disk” shaped?

When you look a sphere from a fixed observation point, you can easily mistake it for a circle, so I was wondering: are galaxies really "disk" shaped or we just don't have the means to detect the ...
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2answers
48 views

Redshift 1+z - CMB Temperature lower?

I know that $\frac{\lambda_2}{\lambda_1} = 1 + z$ Suppose a galaxy had redshfit $z=3$. Does this mean that the wavelength becomes $4\lambda$? Then by wien's law where $\lambda \propto \frac{1}{T}$, ...
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4answers
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Is there a limit to the resolving power of a mirror telescope?

Like, if you hammered out the asteroid 16 Psyche into a 1 mm thick iron foil disc telescope mirror with 2.4x the radius of the Sun, could you resolve details on the surface of an exoplanet? At what ...
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4answers
5k views

Is it possible for the planets to align?

We've all heard the statement that on the 21st of December, the planets in the solar system will "align" from the point of view of the Earth. I assume this means that they would all be in the same ...
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2answers
115 views

Abundances of the light element of the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis

This question is related to the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis of light elements, more concretely I do not understand some features of the graph Why do the $^3$He and D abundances go down with ...
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2answers
484 views

What is the frequency of occurrence of stellar classifications off the HR main-sequence?

An alternative version of this question would be: "if was to pick a star from the $10^{11}$ or so in our galaxy at random, what are the probabilities of it being various kinds of star?" (and I do mean ...
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0answers
39 views

Any cheap (less than 100 euro) telescope for observing Jupiter? [closed]

The moon is not challenging. I would like to observe the big planets and their rings.
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1answer
183 views

Our universe the surface of a 4-dimensional sphere?

The cosmic microwave background that we observe uniformly around us is usually explained by assuming that our universe is the surface of a four dimensional sphere. That way the uniformity makes sense ...
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1answer
103 views

Why is the earth shaped like a sphere and not any other shape: cube, prism? [duplicate]

Why is the earth shaped like a sphere and not any other shape: cube, prism?
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4answers
322 views

How far would you need to displace your eyes to get meaningful depth perception of the stars?

The question follows from xkcd cartoon "Depth Perception (941)". I've isolated the frames that describe the concept here. In words, one could theoretically point two cameras at the sky, and ...
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1answer
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How does intensity differ from apparent luminosity in the context of photometry?

Context: photometry in astronomy. Background: The total luminosity $L$ of a star is the energy that radiates in all spatial directions in all wavelengths and is given by the following formula, where ...