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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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 ...
8
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1answer
311 views

The Solar System explosion in the Nice model

This video depicts one variant of the Nice model (pronounced "neese", like the city in France). I'll briefly describe it in case the link ever dies. Here is the initial configuration: The four ...
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2answers
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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 ...
7
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1answer
303 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 ...
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2answers
155 views

Why do stellar boundaries exist?

What theorems or insights are available to decide wether a star with some given interdependence between its density, pressure and temperature distributions ought to have a boundary at a finite ...
6
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2answers
785 views

How is a blackbody spectrum formed in the Sun?

Sunlight can be treated as BB radiation. Why is it a continuous spectrum while the sun contains only a few elements and the radiation from the jumps between atomic levels are discrete? How does the ...
6
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1answer
194 views

Experimental Data for Mass Distribution of a Galaxy

My goal here is not to discuss dark matter in general. I know there are many other observational clues that hint us towards Dark matter. My goal is simply to understand this argument here a little ...
6
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1answer
231 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
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3answers
160 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 ...
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159 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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1answer
1k views

Reason why stars do not produce elements heavier than iron

In his book "Origins", Neil deGrasse Tyson says that "if you seek to split iron nuclei apart, you must them with additional energy. On the other hand, if you combine iron atoms they will also absorb ...
5
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1answer
146 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 ...
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2answers
667 views

Abundances of the light element of the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis

This question is related to the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis of light elements, more concretely I do not understand some features of the graph Why do the $^3$He and D abundances go down with ...
5
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2answers
265 views

Is it known what causes the “knee” in the observed Cosmic Ray spectrum?

I've seen many versions of the figure shown below -- the famous Swordy plot. They tend to explicitly point out two features in the CR spectrum, the knee and the ankle. I know that the source of ...
5
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3answers
421 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 ...
5
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5answers
353 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 ...
4
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3answers
122 views

Why are the jets of the “light saber” star slightly curved?

Why don't the jets of the HH-24 object follow a straight line? In the image below, notice how they bend towards left from the expected straight line. Is it an optical distortion, or some nearby ...
4
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1answer
134 views

How much atmospheric pressure (CO2) is required to carry iron oxide dust in the wind?

It is common knowledge that there are dust devils and dust storms on Mars. But can we demonstrate that the atmospheric pressure on Mars, which is 0.6% of the pressure we experience on Earth, provides ...
4
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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
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1answer
3k 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 ...
4
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3answers
589 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
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1answer
98 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 ...
3
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1answer
129 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 ...
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55 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
381 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 ...
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2answers
90 views

What defines a cold plasma?

Been looking for this very simple answer for a while now, and google returns a face cream with the words cold plasma in it. Very frustrated. Just wondering, what constitutes a cold plasma in the ...
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2answers
126 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
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1answer
891 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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1answer
324 views

How does inflation drive Ω close to 1?

I'll keep it simple. How does inflation drive Ω close to 1?
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3answers
359 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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0answers
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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1answer
134 views

How is it possible that Thermosphere can maintain so much heat? [closed]

Thermosphere is the Layer of Atmosphere in approx 100-1000 km altitude. Particles in thermosphere are typically at 1400 K temperature. But the sun activity can raise the temperature up to 2300 K. ...
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2answers
137 views

Mass-to-light ratio and rotation curve from brightness profile

This should probably be basic but I've been looking for days and I can't find how to (I'm probably over complicating, but still). I want to calculate a rotation curve for some spiral galaxies. From ...
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2answers
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Is there a binary black hole system in the middle of the galaxy? [closed]

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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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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
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1answer
278 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 ...
6
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2answers
262 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?
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3answers
274 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 ...
4
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2answers
271 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
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1answer
236 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 ...
4
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3answers
329 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
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2answers
3k views

How long does it take a black hole to eat a star?

I presume the answer is that it depends on the mass and size of the star and black hole and how they approach either other, but I was wondering if somebody could provide some rough bounds (e.g. hours ...
4
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1answer
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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
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1answer
107 views

Mach no. should be constant for existence of similarity solution

I am reading some research papers on Taylor-Sedov type self-similar solution to the blast wave problems... It is written that for the existence of similarity solutions Mach number should be ...
3
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1answer
112 views

Cepheid variable light curves

Basically, given a set of noisy observations for the apparent magnitude of a Cepheid variable, how is this fit to a curve which allows the period, and therefore distance, to be found? Cepheids' ...
3
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4answers
185 views

How do black holes accrete mass?

Thanks to time dilation, a distant observer watching a man fall in to a black hole will only see him asymptotically approach the event horizon. So how do black holes ever get bigger?
3
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1answer
173 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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2answers
328 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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2answers
218 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 ...