21
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do we deal only with large scale magnetic fields in astrophysics, and not electric fields?

In astrophysics there is a lot going on about strong, large scale magnetic fields: in stars (prominences), magnetic dynamos, compact accretors collimating jets, etc. There's even a special ...
6
votes
1answer
64 views

Is it possible to determine astronomically/astrophysically whether other planets have ever encountered polarity reversal?

We know of geomagnetic flip in Earth's history by studying geologic data. Given other planets in the system also possess a magnetic field leads to the assumption that such polarity reversal may not be ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Artificial planetary magnetic field

I wonder how difficult it is to create an artificial planetary magnetic field with generators? What power they would need? The question is inspired by thinking about possible colonization of ...
2
votes
1answer
80 views

Why does $H_2$ form on such a long time scale?

If we were trying to figure out the time scale for a gas-phase reaction between two hydrogen atoms in a molecular cloud (which has density $~10^4/$cm$^3$), apparently the reaction would happen on a ...
5
votes
2answers
94 views

Is the magnetic field of a white-dwarf merely residual?

Follow-up to my other question How does Sol's magnetic field continue to exist at such high temperatures? Assuming Sol's magnetic field is generated by convective currents in it's plasma, how is ...
5
votes
2answers
102 views

How does Sol's magnetic field continue to exist at such high temperatures?

The temperature at the surface of Sol is apparently well above 5000C; I'm assuming the layers beneath the surface may be even hotter. At school we learnt heating a metal beyond a certain temperature ...
2
votes
1answer
534 views

Analogy between magnetic bottle and Van Allen's radiation belt

A magnetic bottle is an arrangement that permits to confine charged particles. Here you can find a review for charged particle rotating in a magnetic field and at the bottom of the page a description ...
2
votes
1answer
163 views

Earth's magnetic field, could the poles be reversing?

Lately, I've been 'monitoring', if you will, the earths magnetic field, i've come across some strange looking activity periodically. I exchanged some emails with a guy from NASA today, Joseph Gurman, ...
8
votes
3answers
535 views

Do neutron stars reflect light?

The setup is very simple: you have a regular ($1.35$ to $2$ solar masses) evolved neutron star, and you shine plane electromagnetic waves on it with given $\lambda$. Very roughly, what shall be the ...
1
vote
1answer
561 views

Blandford-Znajek process: Why/how does the current flow along the magnetic field lines

Related: How would a black hole power plant work? I have put a bit of commentary enumerating my confusions in parentheses I read in Black Holes and Time Warps (Kip Thorne), that quasars can generate ...
4
votes
1answer
210 views

Ground-based anti-matter detector on the cheap?

Given today's revelation of the detection of terrestrial gammay-ray flashes (TGF) produced by thunderstorms and the associated pair production of an electron and a positron, how feasible is it to set ...
10
votes
1answer
341 views

How many atoms per light year does light encounter when traversing interstellar space?

Interstellar space is pretty empty but there a small number of of atoms (mostly hydrogen?) floating around. How many atoms per light year would a photon encounter while traversing interstellar space?