The application of physical theory to celestial systems such as stars, planets, galaxies, supernovae, and black holes. Astrophysics proper is concerned with explaining phenomena more so than making observations, the latter falling under the purview of astronomy.

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Astronomical-wavelength radio (AWR) transmissions between cosmic plasmas?

My son asked me if electromagnetic waves longer than radio exist. I told him that even though physics permits such waves, there are no antennas long enough to radiate or detect them. However, on ...
1
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1answer
65 views

Function for heating of a planet by its star

I'm looking for an algorithmic model which will gives rough estimate of the average temperature of a planet's atmosphere (good enough to say whether there will be liquid water anywhere, or if metals ...
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2answers
107 views

Spread and direction of the cosmic background radiation

Something I can never understand is that where the cosmic background radiation spreads? If I know well, the cosmic background radiation is actually the light of the Big Bang. If it happened exactly ...
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0answers
67 views

Modeling the formation of a stellar system and matter accretion

I am trying to figure out what do I need to know to properly simulate the creation of a solar system from a particle cloud with random distribution of hydrogen atoms. Being more of a programming ...
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0answers
78 views

Solar sail area going to Proxima Centari [closed]

I have a physics question that I need some help with: "Proxima Centauri is a star in the Alpha Centauri solar system, it’s the nearest star to our sun (4.24light−years) ...
3
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1answer
228 views

Optical depth in astrophysics

How can be the exponential decay of the intensity $I$ via the optical depth $\tau$ be derived? $$I(\tau)=I(0)e^{-\tau} $$
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2answers
173 views

What if the antimatter in the center of our galaxy could annihilate and cause a chain reaction?

Being said that the antimatter - matter reaction is faster than that of a fission and fusion, what if the antimatter cloud found at the center of our galaxy could really able to react with matter from ...
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2answers
991 views

How would gravity change on a planet rotating around itself very fast?

Let's take a planet identical to Earth, but with rotation speed multiplied by ten thousand. What would happen with the gravity if it was spinning madly around itself? Would the centrifugal force make ...
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3answers
4k views

Why does a supernova explode

This is really bugging me. When you look up some educational text about stars life, this is what you find out: Gravity creates the temperature and pressure to start fusion reactions. The fusion ...
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3answers
2k views

What stabilizes neutrons against beta decay in a neutron star?

Free neutrons are known to undergo beta decay with a half-life of slightly above 10 minutes. Binding with other nucleons stabilizes the neutrons in an atomic nucleus, but only if the fraction of ...
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3answers
148 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
3k views

Neutrinos vs. Photons: Who wins the race across the galaxy?

Inspired by the wording of this answer, a thought occurred to me. If a photon and a neutrino were to race along a significant stretch of our actual galaxy, which would win the race? Now, neutrinos ...
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1answer
429 views

Where do high-energy neutrinos come from?

Last week the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory published a press release reporting the possible discovery of two neutrinos with energies of over 1 PeV. Would anyone here be willing to help me ...
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1k views

What happens when a star undergoes gravitational collapse?

Immediately prior to becoming a supernova the core of some types of stars may suffer gravitational collapse. What happens to any planets in orbit around the star at the instant the mass is fully ...
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4answers
9k views

How long does a supernova last?

Just what the title indicates. Is a supernova over instantaneously? Or, does the (for want of a better word) explosion continue for a while? What is/are the order of timescales involved? EDIT: ...
9
votes
1answer
385 views

Has Voyager 1 entered a solar radiation belt?

The Voyager 1 probe was sent out in 1977 to go where no man made object has gone before, after more than 35 years it’s still going strong. It’s now 124 AU away from Earth and many are wondering when ...
6
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2answers
401 views

How do interstellar hydrogen atoms form stars?

I would like to learn the basics about how interstellar matter contracts into stars under the influence of gravity. Some of my questions: Let's assume an ideal and infinite large cloud of equally ...
0
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2answers
77 views

Has anyone studied a statistical scaling law for the universe? [closed]

How do named objects in the universe scale? Is there a predictable curve for an ordered list, say {atom, animal, planet, solar system, galaxy, etc}? Can you then use the analysis to predict when the ...
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3answers
266 views

We're all star dust?

OK so we've all heard of this from Carl Sagan, Lawrence Krauss and others and we know the argumentation, I don't refute that. There are other examples, for instance I once calculated (this was before ...
4
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1answer
2k views

How does a star ignite?

I remember reading that X-Rays are generated by 'braking' electrons in a Coolidge tube. Is it fundamentally a matter that the extreme gravity immediately before a star ignites is so strong that it ...
3
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2answers
187 views

Could a planet sized bubble of breatheable atmostphere exist?

I'm reading a book (Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder) that the main location is a planet called Virga, which contains air, water, and floating chunks of rock, and has no or a very small amount of ...
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1answer
81 views

What would be the effect of an excess of up quarks on stellar formation?

Suppose you had 80% up quarks, and only 20% down quarks. How would this affect stellar formation?
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1answer
89 views

White Dwarf radius

So I've been reading this about white dwarves, and various other sites about white dwarves. In all of them, they say that we can find the radius of a white dwarf by minimizing its total energy. I know ...
3
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1answer
69 views

Resources in space, and their distribution

I'm making a video game in which the economics of an interstellar civilization is important. What I'm wondering is, how are resources in space distributed? Since everything ultimately comes from ...
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4answers
4k views

What cosmic event would cause Sun rising from the west?

I'm wondering what kind of astronomical or geological events would cause the reversal of Earth's rotation. For instance, Is a meteorite passing very close to Earth able to reverse its rotation? Can ...
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1answer
69 views

Conversion of a star

I need to know what would happen to a star that has size 2 times the solar mass. I guess it would either be a neutron or red giant. Is that right?
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2answers
779 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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4answers
571 views

Are Neutron stars transparent?

Neutrons have no charge so they would not, I think, interact with photons. Would a neutron star be transparent?
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1answer
86 views

Initial separation of neutron star/black hole binaries?

How would I go about finding the distribution of initial separations (i.e. the lengths between the centres of mass) of stars that make up binary systems. I am interested in neutron stars and stellar ...
3
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3answers
224 views

Magnetic Pole Emission from Pulsars

I've been reading up on some pulsar emission theory (admittedly written in the 70's and 80's, but I figured that's a good place to start), namely this review by Curtis Michel as well as the book Black ...
2
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1answer
54 views

Reconciling Units in Jeans' Criterion Formula

In "Physics and Chemistry of the Solar System" Jeans' Criterion is given as: $\frac{GmM}{R_c} = \frac{3mkT}{2}$ ... To me this suggests that on the left we have Joules, and on the right we have ...
4
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3answers
386 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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3answers
931 views

Do all black holes spin in the same direction?

My question is as stated above, do all black holes spin the same direction? To my knowledge, the spin in the direction of the spin of the matter that created them. Another similar question was asked ...
3
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1answer
242 views

In Klein-Gordon, why should infinite downwards photon cascades be possible?

Here is a simple point about the standard interpretation of the Klein-Gordon equation that for the life of me I've never been able to understand: Why would the existence of true negative energy ...
2
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1answer
154 views

What are we all falling towards?

One meteorite fell on the ground in Russia, last week. In different circumstances, it could have orbited the earth, or perhaps pass close to the earth and then disappear into the space. It seems that ...
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3answers
2k views

Is the speed of sound almost as high as the speed of light in neutron stars?

Have you ever wondered about the elastic properties of neutron stars? Such stars, being immensely dense, in which neutrons are bound together by the strong nuclear force on top of the strong gravity ...
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2answers
155 views

How accurate are our calculations about distant stars keeping in mind their enormous distances?

Since many stars are hundreds of light years away from the Earth and therefore, what we observe of them today is really their distant past, how can we say anything with certainty about their ...
10
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1answer
137 views

How scientists could say that such meteorite comes from Mars

How could scientists affirm that a meteorite comes from Mars and not from another source ? This is a probability or an absolute certainty ? How much percent ?
2
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1answer
361 views

Can we transfer burn to another planet at any time?

Assume delta-v isn't a problem and circular orbits. EDIT: Assume that you're already in orbit so you don't have to shift a massive load of fuel up, and the absolute ideal is something that has a ...
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2answers
425 views

Dark Matter 'Stars'

I'm aware that the Milky Way has a dark matter 'halo' around it, presumably a spherically symmetric distribution. But I'm completely ignorant regarding the theories explaining dark matter... Is there ...
3
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1answer
179 views

How do the “tidal forces warming moons” theories hold when apart from heating from expansion, there may be also cooling from contraction?

I can understand a temporary heating, from the tital forces exerted on the moon but wouldn't there be cooling as well eventually when particles "give in" to contraction? Wouldn't they eventually net a ...
3
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2answers
325 views

Total radiation flux from a star

I'm looking around the net to find good resources on how to compute total radiation flux from a given star at a given orbiting distance. Ideally I'd like to get not just the $W/m^2$ of the star, but ...
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2answers
197 views

Are the SI units used in astrophysics?

Just a curious question, do astrophysicist use the SI units, for example in this equation, $r = 5pc$, will this be converted to meters? And what does this $\nu$ stand for?
10
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2answers
391 views

Stellar winds from neutron stars

It seems that this question has not really been explored in the literature. Do isolated neutron stars (which do not accrete material) emit stellar wind? If yes, what composition would it have? If yes, ...
3
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1answer
87 views

What is the furthest object from which fermion rays were detected?

What is the furthest object from which non-electromagnetic cosmic rays were detected?
77
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7answers
11k views

How can a black hole produce sound?

I was reading this article from NASA -- it's NASA -- and literally found myself perplexed. The article describes the discovery that black holes emit a "note" that has physical ramifications on the ...
4
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2answers
108 views

What reason(s) exist to suppose that all degeneracy pressures can be overcome in Black-Hole formation?

In models of stellar collapse to a black hole, it is a given that density increases without bound towards a singularity. Electron degeneracy I get. Neutron degeneracy I get. I assume there's some ...
2
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4answers
563 views

Redshift of light in dark matter

Following Edwin Hubble, it is widely believed that the universe is expanding, which is based on the red-shift of light from distant objects. Can dark matter cause light to be red-shifted and make it ...
2
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2answers
1k views

How does one measure Earth's speed of revolution around the sun?

I know that there are several formulae that one can plug numbers into to arrive an estimate of Earth's speed around the sun (Kepler's third law for instance), but I'm wondering how these things are ...
6
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1answer
73 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 ...