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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What day/night cycles, climate and seasons would experience Alpha Centauri Bb inhabitants?

Alpha Centauri Bb is an exoplanet orbiting Alpha Centauri B. It is asserted that given the close distance to the star the planet should be tidally locked. The orbiting period of the planet is about ...
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1answer
380 views

Trying to link Eulerian and Lagrangian perturbations

I'm trying to make sense of the link between a (linear) Eulerian (i.e., at a given point) and Lagrangian (following a fluid element) perturbation. I will here express not only where I'm stuck, but ...
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1answer
2k views

Why are the orbits of the planets in our solar system along the same basic plane? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer? After watching this video I realized that the orbits of the planets in our solar system ...
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1answer
188 views

When and How far out will the Voyager twins come to a full-stop?

So space is mostly, but not entirely, empty. Every few (dunno the order) cubic metres of space there is some cosmic dust. Assuming that Cosmic dust exerts some friction on passing bodies, The ...
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2answers
152 views

Why is the gas halo of the Milky Way so hot?

I have read on the webpage of NASA that there is a massive hot gas halo around our galaxy. Its temperature is between 100,000 and 1 million Kelvins or more. I do not understand why is it so hot. The ...
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2answers
2k views

Why is Larry Niven's Ringworld Unstable?

In his 1970 science fiction novel Ringworld, author Larry Niven describes the eponymous Ringworld, a gigantic structure shaped as a ring with a radius of around 1 AU, rotating around a star in the ...
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1answer
154 views

What would happen in the final days of the universe?

I would like to know the stages of how the universe would end and what would happen and what the possible scenarios are. I understand that eventually all the stars would burn out and that would ...
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1answer
225 views

Why are black hole singularities stable?

The Friedmann equations says that huge matter densities lead to huge expansion rates. In Newtonian gravity, two massive point particles separated by an infinitesimal distance will experience an ...
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2answers
986 views

What is the physical size of a black hole?

Something that's always confused me. How large is a black hole's physical size - not mass? From descriptions, it would seem that the 'singularity' is a single point, but is it really? Say for ...
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2answers
134 views

Why is NASA interested in Gamma ray bursts?

Gamma-ray bursts(GRBs) are flashes of gamma rays associated with extremely energetic explosions why nasa interested to Gamma ray burst?
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1answer
94 views

Does the spectrum of Sol's emission change as it ages?

A follow-up to my earlier question How would one navigate interstellar space? that just occurred to me; albeit on a different tack. Sol is probably in a state of continuous flux. The change of state ...
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1answer
193 views

How is retrograde motion explained in Tycho's model?

Tycho proposed a model of the solar system where all planets but Earth move around the sun while the sun and the moon move around the earth. I wonder how this model could explain the retrograde ...
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3answers
209 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 ...
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2answers
136 views

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

The temperature at the surface of the Sun is apparently well above 5000 C; I'm assuming the layers beneath the surface may be even hotter. At school, we learned that heating a metal beyond a certain ...
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8answers
5k views

Why are L4 and L5 lagrangian points stable?

This diagram from wikipedia shows the gravitational potential energy of the sun-earth two body system, and demonstrates clearly the semi-stability of the L1, L2, and L3 lagrangian points. The blue ...
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1answer
203 views

Is the fuel burn for a satellite launch affected by the position of the moon relative to the launch site?

The gross mass of a satellite rocket is tiny compared to that of Earth, and Luna. Between them, however, the two bodies set up tides in bodies of water which itself is again considerable mass. At ...
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3answers
206 views

Why and how will we be able to image extraterrestrial planets in the next two decades?

According to a recently published article, a well-established Cambridge astrophysicist stated that: the “origin of life, where it exists, and whether aliens exist, is going to be crucial over ...
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6answers
2k views

Why is there an escape velocity?

I've been trying for days, but I just can't understand why escape velocities exist. I've searched the web and even this site, and although I've read many explanations, I haven't been able to truly ...
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2answers
701 views

Quantum Mechanics and nuclear fusion

I've been told that, according to QM, when Hydrogen atoms are left together there is a non-zero probability that they spontaneously fuse (I accept this bit). I've been told further that, because of ...
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2answers
236 views

What is the Schechter luminosity function's domain of support?

I'm trying to fit a Schechter luminosity function to some data points, but it's not clear from this definition what the domain of support of the PDF should be. I'm familiar with the standard Pareto ...
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1answer
138 views

Official definition of astronomical units

As it is relatively easy to find an official value for a large number of physical constants, (thanks to CODATA), it is not so easy for some units widely used in astronomy (Wikipedia, Google and IAU ...
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2answers
5k views

How close can spaceship get to the Sun

If you want to fly a spaceship with human passengers as close to the Sun as possible, then what effects would the spaceship have to be designed to counteract in order to keep the passengers alive and ...
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0answers
109 views

Mass loss rate of planetary nebulae

The “interacting wind” model of planetary nebulae is based on the idea that the white dwarf phase of stellar evolution is preceded by a red giant phase. A fast wind from the hot white dwarf overtakes ...
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2answers
71 views

Distinguishing Gamma-rays and stars from each other in nebulas

How do you tell the difference between a gamma-ray burst and a star just from a picture of a nebula, in which it cannot flash on and off here and there?
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129 views

gauss-bonnet gravity constraints from string theory

recently there has been advances in observational constraints of gravity theories that contains scalars coupled to the gauss-bonnet topological term: http://arxiv.org/abs/0704.0175 ...
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2answers
292 views

How much does electromagnetic radiation contribute to dark matter?

EM radiation has a relativistic mass (see for instance, Does a photon exert a gravitational pull?), and therefore exerts a gravitational pull. Intuitively it makes sense to include EM radiation ...
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4answers
592 views

Explosion in space

I'm curious about what happens if an explosive substance detonates in space. On Earth, I guess a good chunk of the energy released is carried away by shock waves in the atmosphere. But in space, the ...
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1answer
89 views

Thermal gravitational radiation and its detection

To my poor knowledge on the topic, the gravitational waves that are most likely to be detected by LIGO or other experiments do not have thermal spectrum. But I'm not certain. I know that Hawking's ...
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2answers
99 views

What allows new born suns to travel away from each other?

What allows massive new born suns to move away from each other, as they have been observed. I would think that their massive gravity would prevent this and cause them to slam into each other.
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1answer
677 views

What would happen if a hydrogen bomb were to explode in Saturn's atmosphere?

Purely hypothetical since any kind of testing in atmosphere/space is banned by international legislation/agreement. The humans have already bombed Luna so ... what could be expected to happen on ...
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4answers
8k views

Size of universe after inflation?

Wikipedia states the period of inflation was from $10^{-36}$sec to around $10^{-33}$sec or $10^{-32}$sec after Big Bang, but it doesn't say what the size of the universe was when inflation ended. ...
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2answers
433 views

Can $10^{23}$ stars be treated with methods of statistical mechanics?

Statistical mechanics is used to describe systems with large number of particles ~$10^{23}$. The observable universe contains between $10^{22}$ to $10^{24}$ stars. Can we treat those many stars as a ...
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2answers
375 views

How convincing is the evidence for dark matter annihilation at 130 GeV in the galactic center from the Fermi Satellite data?

I listened to Christoph Weniger present his results at SLAC today. See his paper is here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.2797 and also see a different analysis here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1205.1045. The ...
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1answer
78 views

Does a celestial system exhibit a collective magnetic field?

Sol exhibits a magnetic field, most of the planets in orbit around Sol exhibit a magnetic field - strong and weak both. Does the solar system as a whole exhibit a magnetic field? Does the paradigm ...
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53 views

squeezed radiation astronomy

Squeezed electromagnetic vacuum does have a renormalized energy density smaller than the vacuum. So it makes it in my opinion a inconspicuous candidate for a dark energy carrier. Are there ...
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0answers
49 views

Experimental tests of Cluster Decmposition

How tight are experimental and astrophysical tests on whether Cluster Decomposition is satisfied at various space-like separations? Is there a review paper or a standard reference on the question? I ...
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2answers
138 views

Why are galactic centers always brighter than the edges?

As you can see the image below and other galaxy images, the center is generally much brighter. Why is that? Is there a very big star? A very big gravitational field?
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1answer
226 views

models for astrophysical relativistic jets from compact objects

what is the simplest way to understand the physics of relativistic jets? we know that they have axial symmetry with very tight angular spread, presumably aligned with the axis of rotation of the ...
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0answers
60 views

How is the universe expanding? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: spacetime expansion and universe expansion? Is the space between planets is growing or the space between stars is growing or the space between galaxies is growing?
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1answer
7k views

Negative and positive energy and Hawking [closed]

I don't have any physics background (except the material we did in high school-long time ago). I was watching a documentary with Stephen Hawking about whether God created the Universe and I could not ...
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2answers
115 views

Precessional motion of active galactic nuclei

I want to set a simulation for jet which has a precessional motion. The symmetry axis of jet is $z$ axis, i.e. jet is propagating along $z$ direction making angle $\theta$. I set the velocity ...
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1answer
132 views

Does diffraction contribute to the Black Drop effect?

Two reasons are given to explain the black drop effect here, but I think I came up with a third. Consider a two-dimensional cross section of the situation just after second contact and just before ...
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2answers
157 views

Radiative transfer equation solution

The solution of the radiative transfer equation for spherical ionized blob : \begin{equation} \frac{dI_{\nu}}{ds} = j_{\nu}-\alpha I_{\nu} \end{equation} and solution is (Ref: ...
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1answer
2k views

Do materials cool down in the vacuum of space?

Do materials cool down in the vacuum of space? If yes, how does it really work?
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2answers
258 views

Pressures Necessary for Carbon Detonation

Carbon detonation is a characteristic event of Type 1a Supernova (EDIT: where an accreting white dwarf near the Chandrashankar limit of 1.4 solar masses explodes), an extremely important standard ...
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1answer
98 views

Is there any way to produce food without sun, synthetically?

Is there any way to produce food without sun, synthetically? I mean if we face solar winter. look at: Is there any way to survive solarwinter like in Sunshine - movie?
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1answer
683 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 ...
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2answers
120 views

Is there any way to survive solarwinter like in Sunshine - movie?

Is there any way to survive solarwinter like in Sunshine - movie? Solar winter is where for some reason sun looses its capasity to produce radiation( heat etc.). It doesn't loose everything but some ...
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2answers
91 views

Regarding binary systems (with pulsars)

Are binary systems (in case of stars and other celestial bodies) more favorable than independent existence? I've been going through an article regarding pulsars, where it was stated that 'many pulsars ...
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3answers
243 views

How many stars within 5 parsecs?

I've ran some scripts on some star catalogs, which counted the number of stars with a parallax greater than 200 mas, which should mean everything closer than 5 pc. The results are as follows: ...