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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353 views

What is the status of existing measurements of the speed of gravity?

In replying to a recent question I stated: Gravitational waves have not been yet experimentally observed so as to have their velocity measured. Which after the fact prompted me to try and verify ...
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5answers
567 views

Could the speed of light change outside our solar system

Theory: The speed of light changes when it enters or exits the solar system due to a difference in medium (dark matter possibly). Potential problem 1: refraction If there was a speed change at the ...
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1answer
2k views

How to determine day/night based on latitude, longitude and a date/time?

Is there a simple method of determining, given a UTC date/time, whether it is day or night at a given lat/long coordinate? I am currently using a formula based on a Sunrise/Sunset Algorithm from the ...
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2answers
855 views

Differences between astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology? [closed]

What is the main difference between Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Cosmology? I have the impression that astronomy is a subject that runs parallel to physics but it is outside the physics field. This ...
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2answers
137 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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1answer
856 views

How distorted does the Andromeda Galaxy appear to us due to the speed of light?

The Andromeda Galaxy appears to us at an angle to the galactic disk, i.e. we are not in the Andromeda Galaxy disc's plane, nor are we near the direction that the galaxy's pole points. Therefore, due ...
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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? ...
4
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2answers
644 views

What's the reason for the seasons?

In the diagram, it shows that the fundamental reason for different seasons is when the northern hemisphere is titled towards the sun there's summer in northern hemisphere and winter in southern ...
3
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1answer
215 views

Why do galaxies “disappear?”

So, this bit of information confused me lately. Before, I figured galaxies were no longer visible by us because their luminosity decreased in an inverse square manner. However, while watching a movie ...
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7answers
450 views

Can astronomers directly detect black holes?

Are there any methods of direct detection for black holes? I'm not referring to gravitational lensing, or measuring the orbits of a star in a binary pair. Is there any way of directly 'seeing' them? ...
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2answers
276 views

Is there a “present state” of distant stars if simultaneity is relative?

Special relativity theory says simultaneity is relative, meaning that different observers will not agree on what happened first and what second. Does it then make sense to say that looking at distant ...
19
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1answer
1k views

How fast is the Earth-Sun distance changing

This is inspired by Evidence that the Solar System is expanding like the Universe?, which referenced an article by G. A. Krasinsky and V. A. Brumberg, "Secular Increase of Astronomical Unit from ...
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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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3answers
11k views

How long does it take to travel 36 light years with tolerable acceleration and deceleration?

The recent discovery of HD85512b only 36 light years from Earth has promising attributes to harbor life. Assuming we want to travel there, we cannot instantaneously jump to light speed, (StarTrek ...
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3answers
926 views

What is the most compelling evidence of General Relativity in the presence of matter and energy?

The most oft-cited triumphs of GR are things such as the shifting perihelion of Mercury, gravitational redshift experiments, and gravitational lensing. But, as far as I know, these are only ...
13
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1answer
587 views

What percentage of the sky is occluded by stars?

If you drew rays from the center of the earth out to infinity at every angle, what percentage of them would intersect a star? Extra details: Assume the rays are mathematical rays, or that they ...
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2answers
389 views

Does the Milky Way have dark matter satellite galaxies?

This recent paper by Weinberg et al. discusses that one potential problem with our current model of Cold Dark Matter (CDM) is that is predicts a greater number of satellite galaxies for the Milky Way ...
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0answers
339 views

Why is my approach to the equation of time off by a constant?

I'm trying to better understand the causes for the equation of time by deriving an approximation from first principles. My naive approach, $EOT_{NAIVE}$, is to take the difference between the right ...
16
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10answers
275 views

In astronomy what phenomena have theory predicted before observations?

As far as I know, astronomy is generally an observational science. We see something and then try to explain why it is happening. The one exception that I know of is black holes: first it was thought ...
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1answer
123 views

How did Kepler arrive at his laws?

How did Kepler arrive at his laws? If one already knows the distances to the planets (and the eccentricity of the orbits etc.) it is understandable how one might proceed to establish the second and ...
18
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2answers
796 views

How deep is the Great Red Spot?

The Great Red Spot (GRS) is a very persistent storm system that's easily visible through a telescope on the surface of Jupiter. But what is the three-dimensional structure of the GRS, and how deep ...
12
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5answers
2k views

Anti-Matter Black Holes

Assuming for a second that there were a pocket of anti matter somewhere sufficiently large to form all the type of object we can see forming from normal matter - then one of these objects would be a ...
9
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1answer
423 views

Are the distances we measure to objects in the universe incorrect because of their relative motion?

For example the agreed distance to the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.5 million light years, and consequentially, we see the galaxy as it was 2.5 million years ago! (A time interval in which the galaxy must ...
8
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2answers
421 views

What are the demographics of stars visible to the naked eye?

Of the stars that can be seen with the naked eye, what are the distributions of each type? For example, how many are main sequence? how many are Super Red giants/white dwarfs/neutron stars...etc. ...
7
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1answer
236 views

What are the different ways to measure the spatial curvature of the universe?

Just what the question asks. Assuming the Friedmann-Rovertson-Walker (FRW) metric, what measurements can be performed to determine the spatial curvature of the universe.
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2answers
106 views

Cosmic rays and neutrinos

I'm reading Gaggero's Cosmic Ray Diffusion in the Galaxy and Diffuse Gamma Emission and he makes the claim, ...the definitive proof of [Cosmic Ray proton acceleration in supernova remnants] would ...
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2answers
746 views

How did pre-Copernican astronomers accurately predict planetary position?

Copernican elements (circular orbital elements) are not very accurate. But Copernicus simplified our understanding a great deal by placing the Sun at the center of the system. Im astonished by the ...
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6answers
330 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 ...
4
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2answers
456 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 ...
2
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1answer
844 views

How did Copernicus establish the relative distance to the superior planets?

I understand that the relative distances to the planets had been calculated using various methods since ancient times, and, in particular, that the assumptions of the Copernican model of the Solar ...
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4answers
8k views

How does the moon reflect light?

We can see the moon in the night because it reflects sunlight. But the light is incident on the opposite side of moon with respect to the observer in the night. In this case, how does the moon ...
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1answer
796 views

What is the difference between UT0, UT1 and GMT time?

Every reference I find says that they are "essentially" the same, which we all know really means that they are not the same, but different only by a some small amount that someone else other than me ...
15
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1answer
3k views

Which way do spiral galaxies rotate?

Is it known whether spiral galaxies typically (or exclusively?) rotate with the arms trailing or facing? Intuitively it feels weird to think of the arms as facing the direction of rotation, but ...
14
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4answers
9k views

Do all the individual stars that we can see in the night sky belong to Milky Way?

I was wondering if all the stars that we can see with the unaided eye as distinct point sources are from our own galaxy? In other words, can we see stars from the Andromeda Galaxy or other galaxies ...
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2answers
4k views

What is the farthest-away star visible to the naked eye?

My girlfriend and I were watching Cosmos, and something Carl Sagan said got us wondering what the farthest-away visible star is. Obviously "visible to the naked eye" is a fuzzy concept that might have ...
10
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1answer
222 views

How many earth-sized planets have been discovered outside the solar system?

How many earth-sized planets have been discovered outside our solar system? Is there a combined registry of them anywhere? Where might I look for more information?
8
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1answer
797 views

Distribution of star colours in a galaxy

I'm trying to randomly generate a representation of a galaxy. I have some Idea on the spatial distribution of stars within a galaxy, and I can find plenty of material on the colour of stars, but ...
8
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4answers
2k views

How can I stabilize an unstable telescope?

I have an 80 mm refractor telescope on a tripod, but it shakes on every touch. It's very hard to see via 6 mm (x120) ocular. Even a little wind causes the image to become too unsteady. How ...
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2answers
982 views

What is the luminosity of the Milky Way galaxy?

The luminosity of the Milky Way galaxy according to this is $5\times10^{36}$ Watts, but this number suggests that there are about 10 billion stars with Solar luminosities in the Milky Way, which ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Galaxy Spectra: Emission and Absorption Lines

Spectra from galaxies include both absorption and emission lines. I do understand how both types of spectral lines are produced but I am not quite sure where each type is coming from when we observe a ...
6
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3answers
141 views

How is the distance to a $\gamma \mathrm{-ray}$ burst (GRB) measured in just a few days?

Recently the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope recorded the most energetic Gamma Ray burst (GRB 130427A) yet observed with a peak $\gamma \mathrm{-ray}$ energy of $94\, \mathrm{GeV}$. Various sources ...
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2answers
87 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 $x$ ...
5
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1answer
69 views

According to the initial mass function, should there be more brown dwarfs than red dwarfs?

According to the IMF and the stellar mass distribution, stars become more abundant the less massive they are. And while objects must have a mass > 0.075 solar mass to become a star, brown dwarfs with ...
5
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2answers
153 views

How do we estimate $10^{23}$ stars in the observable universe?

Now, I read somewhere, that there are $10^{23}$ stars in the observable universe. How did scientists estimate this?
5
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1answer
196 views

About the hump on galaxy rotation curves

The past days I have been studying the rotation curves of disk galaxies and I am currently trying to understand how we can extract information about the dark matter of a galaxy by looking its rotation ...
5
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1answer
74 views

Is there an established standard for naming exoplanets?

I understand that exoplanets are named by adding a lowercase letter to the a designation of the planet's parent star or stellar system, beginning with 'b' (the star itself is 'a') in order of ...
4
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1answer
56 views

Can you use pulsar observations to determine absolute time? How long can you go without anything else?

In this old answer of Steve Allen's, he quotes this nice passage Imagine for a moment what would happen if, just as a practical joke, someone found a way to stop all atomic clocks, just for a ...
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3answers
357 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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2answers
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 ...
3
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0answers
37 views

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 ...