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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11
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1answer
391 views

What proportion of a star's hydrogen is consumed in its life?

I've heard in a lecture that a star like the sun would burn 3% of its Hydrogen before expiring. I would have thought it would be much more.
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Signal-to-noise ratio of the difference between two signals

Something tells me this must be a fairly simple question, but I have somehow been unable to find an answer to it. In short: I need to calculate the difference between two signals, A and B, each one of ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Why doesn't helium start to fuse while there is still hydrogen fuel?

In all the descriptions of the stellar life cycle it seems as though helium doesn't start being fused until all (most?) of the hydrogen is gone. Is this true? Why is this? It seems counter ...
3
votes
2answers
359 views

Gravity of a disc

What proof is there that the center of gravity of a disc is at its center when the gravitational field is not uniform, such as objects close to the edge of the disc, or lying within the body of the ...
6
votes
2answers
262 views

Black hole collision and the event horizon

Will the event horizons of a two black holes be perturbed or bent before a collision? What will the shape of the event horizon appear to be immediately after first contact?
3
votes
2answers
531 views

Why is the observed signal the convolution of the true signal with the instrumental function?

Imagine we are observing a star. The light coming from a star enters an optical instrument that will give us some observed data, such as the spectrum of light say. What we observe is not the true ...
4
votes
1answer
173 views

Why can't a stable star have radius 1 < r < 9/8 its Schwarzschild radius?

From http://www.spacetimetravel.org/ssm/ssm.html : A mass of 1.78 [in geometric units] corresponds to a ratio of radius to Schwarzschild radius of 9/8. Theory predicts that a smaller ratio is not ...
2
votes
2answers
191 views

Can the implications of dark energy be used to bridge the gap between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity?

Can the findings of the Physics Nobel Laureates of 2011, namely the overpowering existence of dark energy (vacuum energy) have any implications in the quest the combine Quantum Mechanics and General ...
3
votes
3answers
455 views

How scientists estimated that our universe is 4% normal matter, 21% dark matter, and 75% dark energy?

Is there a simple way to understand how scientists estimated/calculated the following percentages?
1
vote
2answers
106 views

Could a viable solar system work with a cluster of dwarf stars in center? And would it last longer than a single stellar mass star?

So, I was watching various sci channel shows, and they touch on how extremely massive stars live only 100k years, vs the sun which lives ~10 billion years, and dwarf stars live some unspecified time ...
1
vote
1answer
167 views

Supermassive Black Holes = expansion origin?

(Sorry, couldn't resist the title) An article on Physics Today brings news that there is a new record for largest black hole (not) seen in space, some 300 million light-years away. It hints at ...
13
votes
10answers
241 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
35 views

Code to sample from & integrate light of a cluster?

Are there any publicly available codes to sample from an initial mass function (common ones... Kroupa, Chabrier, Salpeter) to construct a cluster, then use stellar models to generate an integrated ...
7
votes
1answer
246 views

How would nucleosynthesis be different if the neutron were stable?

If the strong nuclear force were just 2% stronger, the neutron would be a stable particle instead of having a half life of about 13 minutes. What difference would that have made to Big Bang ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Escape velocity of a rocket standing on Ganymede (Moon of Jupiter)

I want to calculate the escape velocity of a rocket, standing on the surface of Ganymede (moon of Jupiter) and trying to leave Ganymede. My thinking was, the kinetic energy $E_{\text{KIN}}$ must be ...
3
votes
1answer
126 views

The fine structure non-constant

If the fine structure constant is different in different parts of the universe, then what would happen if we travelled to those regions? (I realise this is completely impossible as they are ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Use of advanced mathematics in astronomy, like topology, abstract algebra, or others

I know that topology, abstract algebra, K-theory, Riemannian geometry and others, can be used in physics. Are some of these areas used in astronomy, and are some astronomical theories based on them? ...
1
vote
0answers
109 views

What is the meaning of colors in deep space pictures? [closed]

Are the telescopes really capturing these colors in deep space or are they just "artist's impression". What could make such vast space "red" or "green"?
2
votes
0answers
116 views

Does Spacetime have a “This Side Up” arrow? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Does the curvature of spacetime theory assume gravity? Forgive my naivete as I am not schooled in Physics or Mathematics. I was watching NOVA's "The Fabric of the ...
7
votes
1answer
80 views

What's the most accepted theory for Blue Stragglers These Days?

I'm working on a post against a recent creationism article about blue stragglers. From when I was in undergrad, the general explanation was that they were likely second generation stars within ...
2
votes
3answers
288 views

Why every galaxy is moving away from every other galaxy on astronomical scale? because of an explosion or because of creation of space?

Why galaxies move away from each other in general on the astronomical scale? Which answer is correct of the following? It is because of the big bang theory, everything is just moving away from ...
3
votes
1answer
45 views

What happens when astronomical bodies made up of Dark Matter collapse or collide?

Does dark matter not produce heat or radiation after a collision etc? Or, we detect radiations having no generators?
4
votes
5answers
236 views

Is dark matter around the Milky Way spread in a spiral shape (or, in a different shape)?

Dark matter doesn't interact with electromagnetic radiation, but it, at least, participates in gravitational interactions as known from the discovery of dark matter. But does dark matter exist in a ...
9
votes
2answers
224 views

How fast is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) changing?

I know that the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) is the leftover radiation from the "surface of last scattering". However, at every instant the surface is changing (at the rate of flow ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Initial vs Constant Orbital Velocity

I am working on some basic physics simulation for a game and need to simulate gravity. I have a system working that is behaving more or less correctly so far, but I want to see if I can send a ...
1
vote
3answers
292 views

What was so surprising about accelerating cosmological expansion?

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, as far as I understand, concerns the expanding universe -- galaxies moving away from each other at ever increasing speed (that's what I think I read in newspapers). ...
2
votes
0answers
106 views

Surface normal on the earth to the sun at a given point in time

How complicated is it to calculate a surface normal on the spherical approximation of the earths surface pointing towards the sun at a given point in time? What I try do is to highlight a small area ...
19
votes
2answers
340 views

Why don't stars in globular clusters all orbit in the same plane?

Globular clusters like Omega Centauri certainly don't seem to be very coplanar at all. In other words, why doesn't the explanation at Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same ...
12
votes
3answers
189 views

If neutrinos travel faster than light, how much lead time would we have over detecting supernovas?

In light of the recent story that neutrinos travel faster than photons, I realize the news about this is sensationalistic and many tests still remain, but let's ASSUME neutrinos are eventually proven ...
5
votes
1answer
181 views

Gravitational lensing from an extended body Vs. a point mass

I am interested in gravitational lensing caused by a cluster of galaxies (say it has a diameter of 1 Mpc and mass of $10^{12}$ solar masses). How close must a light travel as it passes by to be ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Why are most astronomy things spherical in the shape (like, the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, and other planets)?

What is the reason for all the astronomy things being spherical in the shape (like, the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, and other planets)?
3
votes
0answers
218 views

Why mostly all the astronomy things are Round in the shape (like, Sun, Moon, Earth, & other planets)? [closed]

Why mostly all the astronomy things are sphere in the shape (like, Sun, Moon, Earth, & other planets)?
2
votes
2answers
40 views

What physical interactions actually make single stars leave their binary companions at formation?

From an interesting ScienceDaily article, I read this Before the groups of stars disperse, binary stars move through their birth sites and the group studied how they interact with other stars ...
6
votes
1answer
194 views

Axial Tilt and precession rate of exoplanets

The Earth's axis is 23.5 degrees away from othogonality to the ecliptic, and it takes about 26 000 years for it to precess fully. I have neither an intuitive sense nor the formula for precession ...
4
votes
2answers
113 views

Balmer lines and their positions

I have two stars, both of which have Balmer lines at the same wavelength positions. The depths of the Balmer lines on each star are different, and the stars are different as well. Why does this ...
7
votes
1answer
48 views

Are there Trojan family or Hilda family satellites locked in Earth's orbit?

Jupiter has many Trojan asteroids located at Lagrangian points L4 and L5 and Hilda asteroids dispersed between points L3, L4, and L5. Does the Earth have similar satellites? If so, how many?
2
votes
0answers
99 views

Are there Trojan or Hilda asteroids locked in Earth's orbit? [closed]

Jupiter has many Trojan asteroids located at Lagrangian points L4 and L5 and Hilda asteroids dispersed between points L3, L4, and L5. Does the Earth have similar asteroids? If so, how many?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What happens to the neighboring star of a type Ia supernova?

Supernovae of type "Ia" are those without helium present, but with evidence of silicon present in the spectrum. The most accepted theory is that this type of supernova is the result of mass accretion ...
12
votes
1answer
280 views

Near-Earth supernova

There are 51 stars within 17 light years of the Earth (source). If one of these stars was to become a supernova, how would they effect the Earth? I have read the Wikipedia article Near-Earth ...
7
votes
6answers
8k views

Why are some galaxies flat?

What is the explanation for the flatness of some galaxies? (If it's due to their rotation then why they are rotating, why some other galaxies are not flat etc., I would like to hear a nice and ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Degree of ionization and Saha equation

Say you want to calculate degree of ionization for different gases in atmosphere of a star with abundances similar to those in Sun (let's assume you only have hydrogen, helium and sodium) over the ...
6
votes
1answer
105 views

What conditions should an asteroid or comet impact need to meet in order to start an impact winter?

Is there a way to calculate if an impact from a given asteroid (say 5 miles in diameter, solid rock to which we know the mass) would start an impact winter? If yes, I would like to see a real example ...
5
votes
1answer
259 views

How did enough material from other dying stars accumulate to start our sun and planets?

How far apart do scientists estimate was/were the dying star(s) that supplied the elements that comprise our sun, planet, and us? With stars so far apart and expansion of space (as I understand it) ...
7
votes
1answer
386 views

Minimum number of atoms in star

I am trying to follow a derivation on this site to derive the minimum number of (hydrogen) atoms I need so that the gravitational force dominates over internal electrostatic forces. The derivation ...
5
votes
2answers
164 views

How can Y-dwarf stars have such a low temperature?

A recent article from NASA said they found some stars with temperatures "as cool as the human body." How is this possible? Does fusion still occur in these stars?
2
votes
3answers
962 views

How much energy does a super nova generate?

For a scene in a SciFi book, I want to know: Is it possible to estimate how much energy per m² an object would receive that hides behind an in-system planet when the sun goes nova?
2
votes
1answer
78 views

What interpretive difference is there between defining a function with or without a differential as a postfactor?

I have thought about this and looked for answers for a long time now, but I do not have any name or label for this problem, which is the reason for the long title of this question. I have come across ...
2
votes
2answers
116 views

What are some molecules stable in outer space that are unstable under terrestrial conditions?

What are some molecules stable in outer space that are unstable under terrestrial conditions? So there are many molecules that violently react on Earth because they're too charged, have unfilled ...
0
votes
1answer
156 views

Finding shortest possible rotation period

How is it possible to find the shortest possible rotation period of a pulsar from a mass and a radius?
5
votes
6answers
281 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 ...