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 size will the Sun become once it is a red giant?

How big will the Sun be once it becomes a red giant? How much of the solar system will it engulf?
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55 views

Why isn't all of the dust in a nebula used in the formation of a star?

I was watching a show on discovery and according to it, in a nebula the dust and gases slowly come together and as the gravity increases and the pressure rises in the core the gases fuse together and ...
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154 views

What is the effect of gravity on gamma rays?

I read an article about a Gamma Ray burst linked to a black hole. How does high gravity fields affect gamma rays?
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133 views

Recommended book for beginners on advanced science topics [duplicate]

I have a background in engineering so I have some familiarity with basic math and science. I've recently been reading about other topics such as Einstein's relativity and have become interested in ...
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3answers
196 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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7answers
7k views

How can a black hole produce sound?

I was reading this article from NASA -- it's NASA -- and literally found myself perplexed. The article describes the discovery that black holes emit a "note" that has physical ramifications on the ...
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6answers
1k views

Why isn't dark matter just matter?

There's more gravitational force in our galaxy (and others) than can be explained by counting stars. So why not lots of dark planetery systems (ie without stars) ? Why must we assume some undiscovered ...
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1answer
137 views

How does physicists calculate the gravitational self collapsing force of a star?

The nuclear fusion taking place inside the stars opposes its gravitational self collapsing force. But, how does physicists calculate it? I just know the classical gravitational theory and not a bit of ...
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5answers
870 views

How is it possible for astronomers to see something 13B light years away?

In a NPR News story from a few years back: "A gamma-ray burst from about 13 billion light years away has become the most distant object in the known universe." I'm a layman when it comes ...
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1answer
604 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 ...
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1answer
153 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 ...
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3answers
1k views

Are neutrino stars theoretically possible?

Since neutrinos have a small mass and are affected by gravity, wouldn't it be theoretically possible to have such a large quantity of them so close to each other, that they would form a kind of a ...
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2answers
488 views

Why can't Iron fusion occur in stars?

It is said that iron fusion is endothermic and star can't sustain this kind of fusion (not until it goes supernova). However star is constantly releasing energy from fusion of elements like Hydrogen ...
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413 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 ...
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2answers
323 views

Does the Milky Way have dark matter satellite galaxies?

This recent paper by Weinberg et al. discusses that one potential problem with our current model of Cold Dark Matter (CDM) is that is predicts a greater number of satellite galaxies for the Milky Way ...
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2answers
363 views

Entropy of the Sun

Is it possible to measure or calculate the total entropy of the Sun? Assuming it changes over time, what are its current first and second derivatives w.r.t. time? What is our prediction on its ...
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1answer
83 views

How does pressure relate to cosmological expansion?

In my cosmology class, we've been talking about pressure in the Friedmann Equation for acceleration: $$ \frac{\ddot{a}}{a}=-\frac{4 \pi G}{3} \left(\rho+\frac{3p}{c^2} \right) $$ In particular, I've ...
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0answers
133 views

Role of time dilation in relativistic beaming

This picture is an excerpt I chose from a Wiki article under "Relativistic beaming" Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativistic_beaming For theta=0,what I don't understand is why the equation ...
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2answers
121 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 ...
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1answer
97 views

How do the “tidal forces warming moons” theories hold when apart from heating from expansion, there may be also cooling from contraction?

I can understand a temporary heating, from the tital forces exerted on the moon but wouldn't there be cooling as well eventually when particles "give in" to contraction? Wouldn't they eventually net a ...
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1answer
125 views

How would a very nearby supernova shockwave and remnants affect the earth?

I've been reading about supernovae for a while, and I noticed how incredibly fast their shockwave and remnants travel shortly after the explosion. So I thought about how this would affect the earth if ...
3
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1answer
128 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
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1answer
174 views

Oldest population 1 star system?

While reading Stanislaw Lem's essays on advanced civilizations, I had a question: When did the earliest generation of population 1 star systems form? How much older could they reasonably be than our ...
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3answers
1k views

Is it possible that all neutron stars are actually pulsars?

I'm assuming that what I've been told is true: We can only detect pulsars if their beams of electromagnetic radiation is directed towards Earth. That pulsars are the same as neutron stars, only that ...
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1answer
118 views

Visual representations of black holes

Some black holes emit jets that are rapidly circling the poles of what appears to be a sphere at the center of the black hole, cf. Fig. 1. Is there really a sphere here and how far (relative to the ...
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1answer
1k views

When does a planet become a star?

How big can a gas giant become before it's considered a star? How does the theoretical maximum compare the observed maximum?
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1answer
518 views

Do all black holes spin in the same direction?

My question is as stated above, do all black holes spin the same direction? To my knowledge, the spin in the direction of the spin of the matter that created them. Another similar question was asked ...
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2answers
87 views

Cosmological models other than FRW

The FRW is a nice isotropic and symmetric metric but I think its assumptions are too many. I was wondering about alternative models. Specifically are there any prominent alternatives that have more ...
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1answer
671 views

Would a submarine float in the atmosphere of Jupiter?

Would a submarine float in the atmosphere of Jupiter, or would it get crushed?
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1answer
135 views

How scientists could say that such meteorite comes from Mars

How could scientists affirm that a meteorite comes from Mars and not from another source ? This is a probability or an absolute certainty ? How much percent ?
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1answer
534 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
1k views

Do the stars imaged by a telescope even exist at present?

I know that we now have telescopes which can capture the images of the stars and galaxies millions of light-years away from us. Does the telescope capture the past image of the star, i.e. the light ...
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2answers
342 views

Accretion disk physics - Stellar formation

I was going through the Wikipedia page for Accretion disks, and I couldn't comprehend what the meaning of this is: "If matter is to fall inwards it must lose not only gravitational energy but also ...
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1answer
713 views

With what probability does nuclear fusion occur at energies far below the Coulomb barrier?

Even at the core of the sun, the temperature of $\sim 10^7$ K only results in $kT\sim1$ keV, which is about a thousand times less than the electrical potential energy of $\sim1$ MeV needed in order to ...
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2answers
1k views

What happens when the black hole at a galactic core eats the galaxy? [duplicate]

I'm making several assumptions, not sure if any are correct: there is a black hole at the center of a galaxy the black hole is eating the galaxy Eventually the galaxy will be gone, right? Has ...
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1answer
350 views

What is the electric charge has the sun and the corona of the sun?

What is the net electric charge (in magnitude and sign) of the sun and its corona?
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188 views

When the sun's magnetic field reverses, how can “the north pole (have) already (…) reversed, and (we are) waiting for the south pole to catch-up”?

I was reading a popular news account of the sun's upcoming magnetic field reversal at http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0807/Sun-s-magnetic-reversal-means-big-changes-for-the-solar-system-video, ...
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3answers
2k views

Why does the moon face earth with the same side?

I know that the rotation period of the moon equals its revolution period. It's just so astonishing that these 2 values have such a small difference. I mean, what is the probability of these 2 values ...
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2answers
206 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 ...
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2answers
307 views

Stellar winds from neutron stars

It seems that this question has not really been explored in the literature. Do isolated neutron stars (which do not accrete material) emit stellar wind? If yes, what composition would it have? If yes, ...
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1answer
2k views

How dense are nebulae?

How functionaly dense are nebulae? Are they so sparse they are only visible from an interstellar or intergalactic perspective or would you be unable to see your hand in one? Do they vary widely in ...
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1answer
1k views

Why does the moon or the earth revolve anti-clockwise?

The question is very simple: Why does the moon or the earth or any another planet revolve anti-clockwise? And can any planet (or satellite) revolve clockwise? What is the physical law for this ...
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1answer
700 views

Solving the Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff (TOV) equation

The Pressure of a static spherical object (say star), which has the Schwarzchild metric outside it, satisfies the following differential equation called the TOV equation. ...
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4answers
228 views

Could dark energy be the effect of gravity at great distances?

This may be a silly question, but is it possible that dark energy and gravity are related to each other? Space-time is deformed everywhere in space by objects with mass. The more massive the object, ...
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2answers
543 views

How does one measure Earth's speed of revolution around the sun?

I know that there are several formulae that one can plug numbers into to arrive an estimate of Earth's speed around the sun (Kepler's third law for instance), but I'm wondering how these things are ...
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1answer
330 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 ...
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2answers
132 views

Speed of birth of a star

A star forms when enough material gets close enough. But how fast does the star start to shine? Is it gradually heating up (similar to an oven) slowly shining more and more? Or is it more like an ...
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1answer
119 views

What is the difference between baryonic and gravitational mass?

I was reading a webpage on neutron stars, and it mentioned that a neutron star's gravitational mass is about 20% lower than its baryonic mass due to gravitational redshift. I understand the basics of ...
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1answer
385 views

What is the formal definition of spin-independent vs. spin-dependent scattering?

In the search for WIMPs as the dark matter particle, there is an important distinction between spin-independent and spin-dependent scattering. Roughly, WIMPs scattering from nucleons through a ...
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59 views

Is it possible for a planet to be made entirely of water (even it's core)? [duplicate]

I was thinking about this today... Is it possible for a planet to be made almost entirely of water (H20)? I'm sure that other elements would be in the mix, but I mean almost entirely made of water. ...