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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Experimental Data for Mass Distribution of a Galaxy

My goal here is not to discuss dark matter in general. I know there are many other observational clues that hint us towards Dark matter. My goal is simply to understand this argument here a little ...
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538 views

Could the earth have another moon?

First, to clarify: I'm not asking if perhaps there's a moon that we haven't found yet. The question is, theoretically, would the earth be able to have another stable moon in addition to the current ...
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142 views

What made Kepler think that orbits are not circular which came to be elliptical?

Kepler formulated his laws in a sort of time where human began to believe in heliocentric universe and telescope was not yet invented/ discovered. So what made Kepler think that orbits aren't ...
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56 views

Calculating the area of region of the sky

I am given the right ascensions ($\alpha_1$ and $\alpha_2$) and declinations ($\delta_1$ and $\delta_2$) of a specific region of the sky. How can we find the area of this region? I know that there ...
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377 views

Does it make sense to continue searching for dark matter on Earth?

The Large Underground Xenon Detector (LUX) recently released results1 that they have found no signs of dark matter2 after a ~3 month search this spring and summer. The LUX group plans to spend all of ...
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66 views

Photometric surveys vs. Spectroscopic surveys

I consistently read about certain astronomical surveys which are either described as "photometric surveys" or "redshift surveys". I'm still unclear as to how these two methods differ. Photometry ...
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205 views

How do physicists and astronomers handle leap seconds?

I'm confused by the many contradictory descriptions I see about how UTC leap seconds are accounted for. I understand that there are various ways to handle them in common practice, and I've seen a ...
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270 views

What time scale is used by the JPL HORIZONS system?

I'm confused by the ust of the term "UT" in the description of time scales used by the JPL HORIZONS system. Their manual states that UT is Universal Time This can mean one of two non-uniform ...
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467 views

Do green stars exists?

I asked a university lecturer why we don't observe green stars, and he said the blackbody curve averages at that frequency such that the cones in our eyes don't recognise it. I have a hunch that ...
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150 views

Are some sources of electromagnetic radiation theoretically (or perhaps technically!) more challenging to detect than others?

In a previous question, I learned that in order to detect an object in space, what matters is how much electromagnetic radiation it is giving off, and what sources of EM radiation the sensor can pick ...
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1k views

Are telescopes with a concave lens useful for astronomy?

Are telescopes with a concave lens (instead of convex ones) ever useful for astronomy? And if so, where are they used? Do they ever affect resolving power?
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365 views

Why is the dark matter density profile within the solar radius (and local density) uncertain?

It seems that we know the rotation curve inside the sun's galactic orbit fairly accurately. Then wouldn't we be able to just take the derivative* of this to get the DM density profile at smaller ...
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66 views

If there were intelligent life in another galaxy, would we notice? [closed]

I've read that once intelligent life successfully achieves interstellar travel, it could populate the galaxy in tens of millions of years, likely populating the most habitable planets and preventing ...
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2k views

Is there such a thing as “North” in outerspace?

On Earth, North is determined by the magnetic poles of our planet. Is there such a thing as "North" in outerspace? To put it another way, is there any other way for astronauts to navigate besides ...
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138 views

What parameters control the amount of thermal energy an object must possess for it to be detectable in space?

What parameters control the amount of thermal energy a space object must possess for it to be detectable by a sensor also in space (i.e. one that does not have to deal with interference from a ...
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313 views

How to tell if a star is in a galaxy?

An astronomer is studying a star that appears to be in a galaxy. How does the astronomer know the star is actually in the galaxy and not just on the same line of sight as the galaxy? I'm guessing ...
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57 views

What prevents Digital interferometry in an optical telescope array?

I understand it is common to combine an array of radio telescopes in to a single instrument using interferometry. This has the photon collecting area of the combined radio telescopes but an aperture ...
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88 views

What is meant by a “sodium line”?

What speed should a galaxy move with respect to us so that the sodium line at $589.0\ \mathrm{nm}$ is observed at $589.6\ \mathrm{nm}$? In the above question what's meant by a sodium line? The ...
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17 views

For a Plummer model mass distribution, what is the timescale of dissolution?

Given an initial system of masses distributed in a Plummer model close encounters cause stars to gain enough energy to leave the system. What is the timescale over which the whole cluster with N ...
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121 views

In a random direction, am I more likely to find a dwarf or giant galaxy?

First a couple of disclaimers: My title explains the idea of my question, but I will pose it slightly differently to make it less subjective. This ends up being in the style of a homework exercise ...
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1answer
231 views

Difference between Gunn Peterson trough and the Lyman Alpha Forest? Cosmological implications?

I'm having difficulty understanding the full implications of the Lyman alpha forest and its use in cosmology. My understanding is this: we detect features in the Intergalactic Medium (IGM) by very ...
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22 views

from right ascension and declination to angle from semi-major axis

I am working on a research project and having trouble converting from ascension and declination to angles with respect to the semi-major axis. The target coordinate system has its origin at the ...
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51 views

2D Sérsic equation [closed]

The 1D Sérsic equation for disk galaxies is $I(r) = I_0 \exp[{-(r/h)^{1/n}}]$ I'm testing some profile extraction and fitting routines on 2D models and I just can't get my head around transforming it ...
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212 views

In the calculation of sunrise, where do the magic numbers come from?

In this question about how to calculate sunrise, there is a link to a page that describes a algorithm to calculate sunrise sunset. But when I start to follow the instructions I find that there is a ...
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1answer
47 views

No tremendous neutrino-flux for SNIa?

Why do neutrino account for 99% of the energy release for a SN II, while it is not expected to be the case for SN Ia? Is it because the densities are not high enough to induce inverse beta-decay? ...
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80 views

What is the direction of our solar system in the Milky way galaxy and in the universe?

What is the direction of our solar system in the Milky way galaxy and in the whole universe? Are we heading toward another constellation, not including Andromeda?
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67 views

CMB parameter, what's the meaning of the matter power spectrum normalization sigma_8?

Most CMB experiments like WMAP and Planck include a certain cosmological parameter called $\sigma_8$. My understanding is that normalization of the matter power spectrum is not a theoretical ...
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441 views

Light coming from distant galaxies

Some of the distant galaxies appear to be receding from us faster than the speed of light due to stretch of the space between us and those galaxies. By an analogy with the ant on a rope paradox, the ...
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1k views

How is the Plane of the Solar System oriented to the Sun's motion through space?

How is the Plane of the Solar System oriented to the Sun's motion through space: parallel, perpendicular, or some other angle?
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76 views

What are the coordinates of the center of rotation of our galaxy, relative to ourselves?

So standing outside in the garden, can we physically point to the center of rotation of the galaxy? I understand that from our viewpoint on Earth, it would be a moving point, so allowing for Earth ...
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1answer
61 views

Does all the theoretical work of astrophysicists have to be confirmed by the observations of astronomers?

I am a chemist an I have some doubts about the work of astrophysicists. I know that astrophysicists do a lot of theoretical calculations based in other theoretical work and also based in real ...
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1k views

Detectability of interstellar messages

Recently a debate started whether it is a good idea to send more messages into space in the hope of having alien civilizations receive them. There are some predecessors, most notably the 1974 Arecibo ...
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1answer
58 views

Desynchronised pixels in images of the Sun?

NASA published this wonderfull video of Sun from SDO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSVv40M2aks And it occurred interesting question: Sun is very big sphere. Its so big that it took light 4,6 ...
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132 views

Photographs of galaxies many light years far from the Earth

Using ground-based telescopes or the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers take photographs of galaxies which are many light years from the Earth. Does it mean those photographs are as old as the ...
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87 views

What is the distance to the closest star similar to our Sun? [closed]

My question was inspired by this nice question. But, I recall the phenomenon of strange objects appearing on our sky, and then moving away with a velocity that seems not yet attainable by manmade ...
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2answers
96 views

Harvesting hydrogen from a star

I've been thinking about what highly technologically advanced civilisations would do once their energy requirements become comparable to the total output of a star, and how such activity could be ...
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1answer
65 views

The ever increasing pull of a black hole

If something is caught in the pull of a black hole and keeps accelerating it can't keep accelerating with no limits or else it would accelerate beyond c. So is there a limit on how fast acceleration ...
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1answer
24 views

In astronomy, what is a 'reflex orbit'?

In astronomy, what is a reflex orbit? The term is used in one of my books, but u don't find a definition for it. Googling it gives me articles about 'Oculocardiac reflex' which is not what I want. ...
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35 views

Luminosity, brightness and magnitdes in cosmology

I just started learning Cosmology and am confused with these terms. What I know so far: Luminosity $(L)$ is the energy output (inc. visible light, radiation etc.) per unit time of a star. It is an ...
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26 views

How much cheaper and smaller on average is SiPM technology over conventional PMTs?

I've heard it said that some of the major advantages of silicon photomultipliers are its low cost and compactness when compared to widely used photomultiplier tubes, but haven't found much information ...
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23 views

Can a gas be modelled as a low density blackbody, if we want to consider how detectable it will be in space?

The answer to this question taught me about the sort of parameters I need to consider if I want to consider how "detectable" an object in space is. I want to consider the detectability of a ...
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93 views

Of the 9096 visible stars — 90% are how close?

I was on a beach on a tropical island one night and, of course, the night sky was magnificent. It got me thinking: I want to point to a star and say with $90$% certainty that it is probably $x$ ...
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107 views

How big would a solar sail need to be to be detected from the orbit of Pluto?

Suppose we made a solar sail out of a highly reflective material. How big would that solar sail have to be for the Hubble Space Telescope to detect it visually at the average distance of Pluto?
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29 views

Will any massless particle/object in the vacuum of space always travel at the speed of light? [duplicate]

The question as stated above, is "Will any massless particle/object in the vacuum of space always travel at the speed of light?"
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4answers
8k views

Why is a new moon not the same as a solar eclipse?

Forgive the elementary nature of this question: Because a new moon occurs when the moon is positioned between the earth and sun, doesn't this also mean that somewhere on the Earth, a solar eclipse ...
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1answer
89 views

Did light already experience death of the universe immediately after the Big Bang?

Let's suppose that I am on Point A with a light-beam launcher. My goal is to launch a beam of light to Point B, which is about 8,000 quadrillion light years away. My friend named Jack is at Point B ...
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2answers
122 views

How close would Earth have to be for us to detect it was habitable, and then inhabited?

Given our current technology (or technology that is near implementation), how close would a clone of our Solar System (and so also Earth) have to be to us in order to detect that the cloned Earth was ...
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200 views

Which BICEP2 r value should be compared to Planck's r<0.11?

The BICEP2 paper reports a tensor/scalar ratio $r = 0.20_{-0.05}^{+0.07}$, but then says: Subtracting the various dust models and re-deriving the r constraint still results in high significance of ...
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4answers
776 views

How to locate the Orion Nebula?

I was trying to see Orion Nebula for few days now and I simply can't spot it. I'm using Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ ( 5" , Newtonian , 1000m ). I'm pretty sure I have the right spot as I saw many ...
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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 ...