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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How does fusion work in the Sun if neutrons have more mass than protons?

According to my textbook, the next result of the fusion reactions in the Sun is: 4H -> He + neutrinos + gamma photons However, if hydrogen atoms are basically a proton and helium atoms are 2 protons ...
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35 views

What is the physical meaning of source function in radiative transfer?

I know that it's the ratio between emission and absorption coefficients.But what does it actually mean? Can you please explain?
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4answers
5k views

Do solar systems typically spin in the same direction as their galaxy?

Is the net angular momentum vector of our solar system pointing in roughly the same direction as the Milky Way galaxy's net angular momentum vector? If yes or no, is that common for most stars in the ...
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67 views

Can anyone think of any astronomical phenomenon that could be due to engineering projects of an advanced civilzation? [closed]

It has always seemed to me that there could very well be evidence of advanced civilizations in other parts of the galaxy/universe that are staring us in the face. Within a thousand years, heck, maybe ...
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223 views

Speed distribution of objects in the universe

If we pick a reference frame where, for example, our planet is standing still (although it should be irrelevant), what would the speed distribution of all objects in the universe look like? For the ...
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0answers
41 views

What is the definition of the “stellar angular diameter” in stellar astronomy?

(Following the definitions here: http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0509535.pdf ) What is the "stellar angular diameter", as measured by astronomers specializing in stellar astrophysics? Using the ...
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1answer
86 views

Does spaghettification really happen with conditions found close to a black hole?

This website tries to explain why the term spaghettification doesn't actually occur when something gets close to a black hole. The argument of the author is that the equations we use to predict the ...
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29 views

Misbehaving singular isothermal sphere potential

The singular isothermal sphere (SIS) is a useful simple model often used in astrophysics. It has density profile: $$\rho(r) = \frac{\rho_0 r_0^2}{r^2}$$ This is well known to have some quirks ...
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22 views

Do the arms of spiral galaxies differ based on the speed of which the galaxy is rotating?

If I were to take a circle with strings attached to it and spin it, the strings would behave differently based on how fast the circle is rotating. Do galaxies behave the same way?
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1answer
59 views

The Thomson scattering optical depth for a photon ar radius r

I am looking to understand some more about the physics of gamma ray bursts. In particular I am looking at the origin of the "prompt emission". Some of the energy associated with this prompt emission ...
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46 views

Origin of Jet production: Active Galactic Nuclei

According to Netzer's book on Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), pair production ($\gamma \gamma \leftrightarrow e^+ e^-$) which causes AGN jets presumably happens in "the corona of the central accretion ...
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97 views

Density of the Sun

Being either on the surface or somewhere inside; where is the density of the gases of the Sun equal to the density of the ground we stand on here on earth?
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95 views

What causes the death of the Sun?

In a previous question I learned that in each second only a miniscule portion of the total hydrogen in the Sun is converted to helium and that the number is 1/10^18 of its mass converted each second. ...
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283 views

Would a rocky planet orbiting so close to a very hot star eventually vaporize?

I was thinking about the physics behind a hypothetical scenario where a planet the size and the mass of the Earth is orbiting so close to a very hot star and what the long-term fate of such a planet ...
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1answer
121 views

Where is the Hydrogen the Sun consumes?

I understand the Sun consumes 600,000,000 tons of Hydrogen each second. Where is this Hydrogen? Is all the Hydrogen the Sun will ever consume inside it or are there vast amounts of Hydrogen in space ...
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1answer
58 views

Will climate change cause the Moon to move away from the Earth at a faster rate?

The Moon is moving away from the Earth at a rate of 38.08 ± 0.04 mm/year. This is caused by the tidal bulges being pushed ahead of the Moon as the Earth rotates and the landmasses interact with the ...
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3answers
151 views

Are there more photons than nuclei within the Sun?

Are there more photons than nuclei within the Sun? Is there a good way to estimate what the ratio would be?
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1answer
38 views

Origin of Stellar Nurseries

What is the mechanism thought to cause huge stellar nurseries to form e.g. eagle nebula?
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2answers
53 views

Are there hypothetical processes which allow the existence of a fission powered star?

I know this is impractical given the rarity of heavy fissile elements in the universe (contrary to the abundance of fusion friendly elements like hydrogen), but is there any process via which a ...
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3answers
115 views

Can there be eternal stars?

the question is quite straightforward: Can there be stars that shine forever without ever collapsing nor growing? Do we know some really, really old stars? (whatever age that might be) I hope to ...
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117 views

Relativistic rotational squeezing?

I would like to consider a sphere rotating at very high angular speeds, such that the speed in its equator would be relativistic. This is very similar to Ehrenfest paradox situation, except that ...
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0answers
41 views

Signal-to-Noise ratio given pixel intensity map [closed]

I have a question regarding calculing the SNR of a signal given the pixel intensities. Say I'm given the pixel intensity values below: $\begin{array}{ |c|c|c| } \hline 3&3&3&3&3 \\ ...
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1answer
25 views

Looking for current review article on the Oort Cloud

I'm sure someone will tell me just to Google, but I'm struggling to find a truly detailed and informative article explicating our current understanding of the Oort Cloud. Could someone please ...
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1answer
57 views

How do inert helium cores in sub giant stars create a pressure force?

I'm reading about the sub giant branch (SGB) and the evolution to the red giant branch (RGB). On the SGB stars have burned all hydrogen into helium, as a result, they have an inert helium core. The ...
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1answer
45 views

Can the lithium test be applied to differentiate brown dwarfs from other substellar objects?

The lithium test is often used to differentiate brown dwarfs from low-mass M-type dwarfs (see e.g. Martin et al. (1994)), because brown dwarfs (at least the lower-mass ones) do not burn lithium, ...
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4answers
75 views

Navigating to a distant star

Suppose I have a space ship that can travel at $0.9c$, and I'm going to a star located at 20 light years or so from the Sun. From a practical point of view, if I keep pointing the nose of my space ...
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546 views

Do supernovae produce an appreciable amount of lithium?

David Z's answer to this question got me wondering - is any appreciable amount of lithium produced as the result of a supernova explosion, either by fusion (which seems unlikely to me, but I don't ...
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2answers
46 views

In stellar astrophysics, what is the difference between protostellar disk and circumstellar disk?

I have noticed both the terms "protostellar disk" and "circumstellar disk" in the stellar astrophysics and exoplanet literature. What exactly is the difference?
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25 views

Help reading power spectrum graphs?

How would I go about figuring out how long a source was measured when given a graph of the power spectrum? From notes I'm following, they just state the total observation time as being roughly ...
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33 views

Lorentz factor correction for luminosity

I am looking at the physics behind gamma ray bursts, working through a comprehensive review Kumar & Zhang (2014) (arXiv link). On page 92, Eq (111) the luminosity or a relativistically expanding ...
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2answers
45 views

How can contact binaries persist?

This answer discusses contact binaries, which I did not even know existed. I can understand how they could exist for a short time (maybe) as gravitational waves carry off energy that causes the stars' ...
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43 views

Why do TiO bands dominate M dwarfs?

I'm new at understanding stellar classification and the spectral classification of stars. What is the exact reason TiO molecules (titanium oxide) dominate the spectrum for M dwarfs? How did this TiO ...
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1answer
147 views

What is the largest possible mass for a stable planet made of iron?

Consider a large spherical planet made of pure iron. Think of something similar to Mercury or Earth without its mantle, only much bigger, though those planets have elements other than iron mixed in ...
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1answer
39 views

Short Gamma Ray Bursts from black hole mergers

I have read in passing that short gamma ray bursts can be caused by the merger of 2 black holes in a binary system. I have Googled but can't seem to find any good sources describing the phenomenon ...
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62 views

Quantum gravity- Vacuum catastrophe

Why does the predicted mass of the quantum vacuum have a very little effect on the expansion of the universe?
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2answers
75 views

Do gamma ray bursts play a role in cosmic evolution?

If gamma ray bursts were to interact with gas clouds in the early universe, might it be a relevant factor in star production?
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44 views

Is it possible that a satellite once was a small planet?

Very common fact that a planet has satellite which revolves around it and has an impact on that planet too.Is it possible that a small planet had been bombarded with a big planet and transformed ...
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9 views

Region of resonance and overlap

In planetary dynamics what does a region of resonance (mean motion) between two bodies mean and how to quantify the region? How does resonance overlap occur and what are its consequences? What is ...
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1answer
76 views

Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact on Jupiter

When the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted with Jupiter it created a ball of fire 3000 Km high and it left a mark on the surface of the planet that was visible for weeks (source: Wikipedia). How was the ...
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1answer
47 views

How was hydrogen gas (H) obtained by spectroscopists? Why is there more H than H2 in space?

Introductory quantum mechanics lessons talk about emission and absorption spectra for the hydrogen gas, and then give you an explanation as if this gas were pure $H$ atoms, and not the $H_2$ molecule ...
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2answers
76 views

How can we determine the internal structure of a star from distance?

See here for the discussion leading to this question. In essence, I was wondering whether there were methods to differentiate between a star destined to become neutron star and a star destined to ...
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2answers
111 views

How much of an asteroid mass can be in platinum or rare metals?

There are many articles about the 2011 UW-158 asteroid which will pass earth tonight. The interesting thing about this asteroid is that it is said to contain $5.4 trillion worth of platinum. Many ...
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0answers
59 views

Geometry of magnetic field lines in plasmas/MHD

So I'm trying to gain an intuitive grasp of plasmas and magnetohydrodynamics. There's a couple of questions I have. What does it means magnetic field lines are frozen into "plasmas"? Is it that ...
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1answer
79 views

What is the process that causes a collapsing star to bounce back? [duplicate]

Can someone explain the process by where a star collapses and bounces back. I haven't been able to find a good explanation of the bounce. Edit here, I was wondering specifically where the energy of ...
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1answer
33 views

Using gravity assitance or turn to return back a spacecraft

I wonder why gravity assist is not also used to return missions back to Earth? I assume the space shuttle is too expensive with its accessories and could be a money and time saving to reuse it, ...
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1answer
34 views

Is there any evidence from observational cosmology to say Dark Energy dominated era begins 5 billion years ago

People say that Dark Energy Dominated era begin 5 billion years ago. Do we have evidence for that from observations
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56 views

Synchrotron radiation derivation

In the derivation of synchrotron radiation in a standard text (J.D. Jackson/Rybicki & Lightman), we do it by taking instantaneous circular motion of the electron, because the power emitted by ...
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5answers
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Did the Sun form around a solid core?

When Jupiter formed I assume like the other planets it started as tiny clumps of matter that eventually came together, became gravitationally bound and then eventually captured a lot of gas. I've also ...
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3answers
641 views

Pure hydrogen star

What is the smallest mass of pure hydrogen that can ignite fusion? That is can population III stars have tiny masses? How would such stars develop? How long would such a star last?
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1answer
74 views

Difference between Enzo & Gadget astronomy simulation codes

Enzo and Gadget are simulation codes used in astronomy. What are the largest differences between them both in terms of physics they simulate and in their implementations?