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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10
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2answers
327 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
937 views

Mass density of dark matter in solar system near us

What is the approximate mass density of dark matter in our solar system at the radius of the Earth's orbit? I would like some idea of the mass of dark matter going through each cubic meter of ...
8
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5answers
1k views

Two orbiting planets in perpendicular planes

Inspired by this question. Can a 3 body problem, starting with two planets orbiting a larger one (so massive it may be taken to stand still) in perpendicular planes, be stable? Is there known an ...
6
votes
5answers
981 views

How is distance measured to far away stars and galaxies?

What I need is an accurate description of the methods used to determine the distance to Andromeda. The Parallax method is for nearby objects as I presume. The red shift method applies, but how do you ...
5
votes
3answers
788 views

Why does fusion stop at iron when nickel is most tightly bound?

My understanding is that stellar fusion naturally stops at iron because it is energetically unfavourable to grow the nucleus further. But iron is only the third most tightly-bound nucleus, nickel is ...
3
votes
2answers
171 views

Smolin on Cosmological selection and neutron stars

Regarding the cosmological selection hypothesis and testable predictions, Lee Smolin asserted the following: "Smolin: I did make two predictions which were eminently checkable by astrophysical ...
2
votes
3answers
389 views

How far has a 13.7 billion year old photon travelled

I've read that the size of the observable Universe is thought to be around ~46 billion light years, and that the light we see from the most distant galaxies were emitted ~13.7 billion years ago as a ...
2
votes
2answers
531 views

Are there formulae for calculating stellar luminosity and effective temperature as a function of age?

Is there a manageable formula or set of formulas or simple algorithms that approximate stellar luminosity and effective temperature (or radius) as a function of stellar age? I'm aware that accurate ...
0
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0answers
52 views

Graviational Lensing Data

Can anyone provide me with (or point me to) real life gravitational lensing data that I can plug in to the first equation on this page (the standard lensing equation): ...
13
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2answers
406 views

Is there evidence of dark matter in our galaxy?

Is there evidence of dark matter in our galaxy? How can we measure this, say, how many percent of the center of our galaxy is dark matter? I did not find the answer in the question What's Dark ...
12
votes
3answers
20k views

What's the difference between gas and plasma?

A friend stated that stars are hot balls of gas, however we know that technically stars are plasma. Is his statement entirely incorrect? Can a plasma be considered a form of gas or should be referred ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do galaxies and water going down a plug hole spin?

We all experience things spinning, whether it's water down a drain, the earth on its axis, planets round the sun, or stars in a galaxy - even electrons round an atom. But why is spin so common in ...
8
votes
1answer
237 views

Why are polar jets emitted along the axis of rotation?

Why are streams of energy-matter emitted along the axis of rotation of compact objects? (or) what is the reason that they are emitted along the axis of rotation of a compact object?
7
votes
2answers
608 views

What elements can be created in the fusion process of different types of stars?

As I understand it fusion inside a sun can produce heavier and heavier elements until some sort of "nucleus size limit" is reached. As far as I understand, the limit is thought to be reached with the ...
5
votes
2answers
549 views

How much faster is the fusion we make on earth compared to the fusion that happens in the sun?

I have come across many websites that states that the proton-proton fusion which is the dominant type of fusion that powers the suns, is extremely slow and that is why the sun is still burning to that ...
5
votes
2answers
455 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
608 views

Are galactic stars spiraling inwards?

Are the stars in our galaxy spiraling inwards towards the center, or are they in a permanent orbit? And if we are heading towards the center then what is the rate of this process? I started ...
4
votes
4answers
353 views

What is the actual energy content of the Sun?

Beside the energy released by nuclear fusion in the core, the Sun is a hot plasma of hydrogen and helium ranging from thousands to million of degrees. So how does that translate into energy ? I have ...
48
votes
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 ...
52
votes
2answers
6k views

Why is the Sun almost perfectly spherical?

Relatively recent measurements indicate that the Sun is nearly the roundest object ever measured. If scaled to the size of a beach ball, it would be so round that the difference between the widest ...
23
votes
5answers
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 ...
21
votes
1answer
615 views

How do we know that these radio bursts are from billions of light-years away?

NASA just announced that they detected the first radio bursts from outside of our galaxy. Astronomers, including a team member from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the theoretical lower mass limit for a gravitationally stable neutron star?

I ask here intentionally not for the size of the smallest possible observed size of neutron stars, which corresponds approximately to the well-known Chandrasekhar-limit for the upper limit of the ...
9
votes
1answer
434 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 ...
15
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4answers
553 views

What mechanism is responsible for the creation of these dunes on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko?

What mechanism is responsible for the creation of these dunes on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko? The following high resolution picture from ESA's Rosetta mission shows the dunes: At a distance ...
13
votes
5answers
8k views

The final death of a black hole

What are the different death scenarios for a black hole? I know they can evaporate through Hawking radiation - but is there any other way? What if you just kept shoveling more and more mass and ...
5
votes
7answers
1k views

Is there a black hole in the centre of the Milky Way?

Is it true that the whole galaxy is actually revolving, and powered by a black hole? Has it been proven, and if it is true, how can our solar systems actually keep up the momentum to withstand the ...
32
votes
4answers
2k views

Why doesn't the solar wind disrupt the planets?

The sun creates this heliosphere by sending a constant flow of particles and a magnetic field out into space at over 670,000 miles per hour, which is also known as solar wind. If the speed of the wind ...
30
votes
3answers
4k views

When a planet is heated through gravitational pull, where is the energy taken from?

Jupiters moon Io is heated through the gravitational pull of Jupiter, but when Io is heated because of this, where does that energy come from? How does conservation of energy work for this effect, ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

When did the first carbon nucleus in the Universe come into existence?

I am a chemist with a passion for astrophysics and particle physics, and one of the most marvellous things I have learned in my life is the process of stellar nucleosynthesis. It saddens me how my ...
3
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
357 views

Galactic Rotation Speeds - Ehrenfest Paradox, Gravitational time dilation, Dark Matter - all of the above?

The observed paths and speeds of objects, part of some distant galaxy, do not match up with speed vs distance curves it seems - the observed speeds are not falling off in fact they're trending as ...
15
votes
4answers
644 views

Are Neutron stars transparent?

Neutrons have no charge so they would not, I think, interact with photons. Would a neutron star be transparent?
13
votes
1answer
566 views

Do celestial objects experience drag from the near vacuum of space/does the near vacuum have a mean velocity?

For instance do the planets around the sun experience drag from the near vacuum of space? Or do the (hydrogen) atoms in interplanetary space have a mean velocity near orbital speeds, such that object ...
5
votes
5answers
721 views

If the size of universe doubled

My question is silly formulated, but I want to know if there is some sensible physical question buried in it: Suppose an exact copy of our universe is made, but where spatial distances and sizes are ...
4
votes
5answers
195 views

Can a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) cause a blackout on Earth and why?

Can a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) cause a blackout on Earth and why is it so what's the relation between electro magnetic radiations and electrical and electronic appliance.what exactly does it do to ...
2
votes
1answer
324 views

When would the proposed black hole at the centre of Milky Way gulp in our solar system? [duplicate]

I've heard and read that our solar system lies near to the peripheral region of the Galaxy. Then accordingly we would have a greater probability of sustaining to eventual gulping down by the ...
1
vote
3answers
333 views

Effect of expansion of space on CMB

Is it true that the expansion of space time cause the CMB to become microwaves from a shorter wavelength. If it is has the amplitude been increased? Seeing as the amplitude has decreased; why hasn't ...
22
votes
1answer
718 views

Causes of hexagonal shape of Saturn's jet stream

NASA has just shown a more detailed picture of the hexagonal vortex/storm on Saturn: http://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-releases-images-saturns-hexagon-mega-storm-may-have-been-swirling-centuries-1496218 ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

When will the Moon reach escape velocity?

From what I know, the Moon is accelerating away from the Earth. Do we know when it will reach escape velocity? How do we calculate this?
12
votes
1answer
402 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
246 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
521 views

How to calculate the kinetic energy of supernova ejecta?

I believed I could use $0.5\times M_{ej} V_{ej}^2$, with $M_{ej}$ being the ejected mass and $V_{ej}$ being the velocity of the ejected mass. But I noticed in this and this that the the mean velocity ...
5
votes
1answer
81 views

Are the known exoplanets representative of the population of exoplanets?

An article about the recent release of a large number of confirmed exoplanets states that most of the 715 newly announced exoplanets orbit very close to their host stars. Do the theories predict ...
2
votes
2answers
373 views

Where is all the Dark Matter? Theoretical Question

In my Physics Class we had to look into possible areas where Dark Matter could be "hiding." Such as Black Holes and so on. Dark matter really can be "seen" through its gravitational effects, and we ...
2
votes
0answers
122 views

Electric and magnetic field in a black hole

I have many questions about this topic: Does the electric field of a charged black hole look like this? I mean how can it have an electric field if nothing can escape from a black hole, and what is ...
2
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
70 views

Do Massive Twin Quasar Jets Condense into separate Spiral Galaxies?

I was looking at a quasar, radio image of “Cygnus A”. Do the massive twin quasar jets condense into two separate galaxies? Do the average twin quasar jet emissions, plasma, condense, turn into ...
1
vote
3answers
266 views

Photons straight into black hole

What happens to a photon shot straight into a black hole? Does it gain infinite momentum before it crosses the horizon? If it has a finite momentum going in, then it would seem that a photon of the ...