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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394 views

Why does gravitational collapse occur suddenly in a supernova progenitor?

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Supernovae, and it says that one of the reasons why a supernova occurs is due to sudden gravitational collapse when the core of the star has little fusable ...
8
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2answers
450 views

What are the demographics of stars visible to the naked eye?

Of the stars that can be seen with the naked eye, what are the distributions of each type? For example, how many are main sequence? how many are Super Red giants/white dwarfs/neutron stars...etc. ...
5
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1answer
133 views

Has the number of new stars born decreased over time?

Has the number of new stars being formed decreased at all over the age of the universe? Would this be because the average density of the universe is decreasing due to the expansion of the universe, it ...
5
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6answers
358 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 ...
4
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2answers
396 views

What is the temperature of the surface and core of a neutron star formed 12 billion years ago now equal to?

In what part of the spectrum is it radiating? In the infrared, in the microwave? Or is not radiating anymore at all? In russian: Чему сейчас равна температура поверхности и ядра нейтронной звезды, ...
3
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1answer
89 views

Did dark matter cause the formation of the Solar System?

This question is related to my previous question on Solar System Formation and is a pure thought experiment, with as few as possible assumptions made. From my previous question, I learned that stars ...
2
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2answers
962 views

Temperature on the surface of the sun calculated with the Stefan-Boltzmann-rule

In a German Wikipedia page, the following calculation for the temperature on the surface of the Sun is made: $\sigma=5.67*10^{-8}\frac{W}{m^2K^4}$ (Stefan-Boltzmann constant) $S = 1367\frac{W}{m^2}$ ...
20
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2answers
10k views

Is Jupiter a failed star?

In my physics lessons, my teachers have always been keen to tell my class that Jupiter is considered a 'failed star' by scientists. Is this true? In my own effort I wondered if maybe this could just ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Storing a Planet-sized Chunk of Metal Inside a Star

Would it be physically possible to "store" a planet-size or larger sum of metal, say gold or platinum, inside a star by letting it fall to the core? Would it be possible to detect which stars had ...
9
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2answers
892 views

When did the first carbon atom 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
11k 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 ...
8
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2answers
147 views

Why more Fe-56 than Ni-62 as fusion product in heavy stars?

Suppose we create an Fe-56 nucleus and an Ni-62 nucleus, each from individual protons and neutrons. In the case of Ni-62, more mass per nucleon is converted to binding energy. Thus we could argue the ...
7
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2answers
1k views

Do we know what event caused the Sun and Solar System to form?

Some stellar formation theories suggest that stars are formed by shock waves from trigger events such as supernovae. This excerpt from Star Formation basically gives the background to my question: ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the luminosity of the Milky Way galaxy?

The luminosity of the Milky Way galaxy according to this is $5\times10^{36}$ Watts, but this number suggests that there are about 10 billion stars with Solar luminosities in the Milky Way, which ...
6
votes
1answer
186 views

Upper Mass Limit of Quark Stars

While there is no confirmation that quark stars exist, is there any theoretical limit analogous to (but different from) the Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff limit for neutron stars? In other words, what is ...
6
votes
2answers
889 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 ...
6
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3answers
145 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 ...
6
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2answers
142 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 ...
5
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3answers
206 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
86 views

According to the initial mass function, should there be more brown dwarfs than red dwarfs?

According to the IMF and the stellar mass distribution, stars become more abundant the less massive they are. And while objects must have a mass > 0.075 solar mass to become a star, brown dwarfs with ...
5
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1answer
204 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 ...
4
votes
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
376 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 ...
4
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3answers
558 views

Energy of the electron-muon reaction

Lets see the reaction: $e^- \mu^- \to e^- \pi^- \nu_\mu \;\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\; {(1)}$ I suppose, that this reaction occurs as follows $e^- \mu^- \to e^- \mu^- \pi^+ \pi^- \to e^- \pi^- \nu_\mu$ Is ...
3
votes
1answer
93 views

Could the estimated stellar mass for the Milky Way galaxy include brown dwarfs?

Trying to find an estimate for the stellar mass of the MW galaxy, I found this paper and the estimated stellar mass is $~6.5 \times 10^{10} M_{\odot}$. I was also trying to understand the methods used ...
3
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0answers
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 ...
3
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1answer
371 views

neutrinos by formation of “neutron pairs”

Here : http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20084-neutron-star-seen-forming-exotic-new-state-of-matter.html are news on superfluidity in a neutron star. The necessary bosons they say are pairs of ...
2
votes
2answers
108 views

When do stars become red giants?

I am a bit confused when do stars become red giants? Is it just after they have finished core H burning and the core contracts creating high temperatures which result in core He burning to occur which ...
2
votes
1answer
189 views

Why are cgs units the norm in astrophysics?

Other physics communities, e.g. the particle physics one, have their own set of units, custom-tailored to their own needs. Now, the astrophysics community is somewhat similar, in that a lot of ...
2
votes
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
285 views

How does inflation drive Ω close to 1?

I'll keep it simple. How does inflation drive Ω close to 1?
2
votes
3answers
336 views

Why is it thought that normal physics doesn't exist inside the event horizon of a black hole?

A black hole is so dense that a sphere around it called the event horizon has a greater escape velocity than the speed of light, making it black. So why do astronomers think that there is anything ...
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3answers
345 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 ...
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1answer
736 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 ...
-2
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2answers
2k views

Is there a binary black hole system in the middle of the galaxy?

We have observed gravity effects from black holes in the center of galaxies, but galactic centers are dusty so we can’t tell if it’s one black hole or two black holes in a binary system in there. A ...
10
votes
1answer
324 views

Introduction to neutron star physics

I enjoy thinking about theoretical astrophysics because I want to understand black holes. Given that no one understands black holes, I like to ponder the nearest thing to a black hole: a neutron star! ...
10
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0answers
56 views

What allows the modified Urca process to work at lower density than direct Urca in neutron star cooling? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What allows the modified Urca process to work at lower density than direct Urca in neutron star cooling? This comes from an unanswered question over at physics.se: The ...
6
votes
3answers
194 views

Jupiter radiation belt: where >MeV particles comes from?

When I read some discussion about exploration of Jupiter moons, or possibility of life there, a common argument is high dose of radiation in Jupiter's radiation belt (several orders of magnitude ...
6
votes
2answers
702 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
236 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
263 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
197 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?
4
votes
2answers
128 views

Can the Sun's core be treated as an ideal gas?

I know that a gas behaves more like an ideal gas at higher temperature, and that is very well achieved in the Sun's core. But also low pressure is needed for a gas to behave like an ideal gas, and the ...
4
votes
4answers
248 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
278 views

stability of hypothetical lunar atmosphere

Assume that by some means, the moon could be given an atmosphere, of the same density and pressure at the surface as the earth's. Obviously in a stable atmosphere there are temperature variations from ...
4
votes
1answer
977 views

The Galactic Plane

I'm guessing this isn't a great physics question, but I just can't find an answer with Google. If the galactic plane is perfectly horizontal at what angle and rotation will the ecliptic plane of our ...
3
votes
1answer
157 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
281 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
760 views

At what temperature does water become a liquid on Mars? On the asteroids? And in a vacuum?

I know that I can just read off the phase diagram for water (for the surface atmospheric pressure on each object). But could there possibly be some nuances that someone might miss just from viewing ...
3
votes
1answer
133 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 ...