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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Universal gravity at small distance

Could it be that there is simply a maximum gravitational force that two bodies of finite mass can exert on one another? This would occur at $r=0$, so maybe there is some really really really small $a$ ...
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2answers
396 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 ...
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1answer
75 views

Is there a simple formula for calculating semimajor axis bounds of “habitable zone”?

I understand that an accurate determination of the bounds of the "habitable zone" for a given stellar system depends on a large number of factors, including many beyond characteristics of the parent ...
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1answer
80 views

Why does $H_2$ form on such a long time scale?

If we were trying to figure out the time scale for a gas-phase reaction between two hydrogen atoms in a molecular cloud (which has density $~10^4/$cm$^3$), apparently the reaction would happen on a ...
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134 views

What is the shape of the Sun's orbit around the Milky Way? [closed]

Here is a question for you really bright folks. How does the motion of the sun along the midpoint of the plane of the galaxy look like? I suspect it to travel above and then below the plane but I ...
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1answer
83 views

The origin of the colour of the sun

I have learned so many concepts under astrophysics and unfortunately, I have muddled everything together... Let me try to illustrate my problem: When a star is in main sequence, it fuses hydrogen to ...
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1answer
99 views

Why can't we detect redshift of Galaxies/Clusters moving parallel to us?

If a moving Galaxy/Cluster doesn't have radially outward motion component from us, we are unable to detect its redshift. The answer may look obvious: There's no wavelength squeezing/expanding ju-ju. ...
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1answer
42 views

Experimental evidence for the relic neutrinos

What are the experimental (indirect) evidence for the cosmic neutrino background? Where can I read more about this? The discussion on the wikipedia page about the C$\nu$B seems to me to be more ...
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2answers
103 views

Cosmic radiation cutoff at LOW energies?

The energy spectrum of the cosmic radiation (not CMB) is limited to both sides. I know about the GZK-cutoff at high energies. Basically the interaction probability for photons of energies above 10^20 ...
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2answers
94 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 ...
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3answers
172 views

Magnetic Pole Emission from Pulsars

I've been reading up on some pulsar emission theory (admittedly written in the 70's and 80's, but I figured that's a good place to start), namely this review by Curtis Michel as well as the book Black ...
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63 views

Behavior of Saha and Boltzmann

So I'm just wondering why the Saha and Boltzmann distributions behave differently as temperature increases? I know one is for ionization levels while the other is for energy levels but is that the ...
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38 views

Precession period matching solar year

Consider the case of a tidally locked planet: its axis of rotation must be perpendicular to the plane of its revolution around the parent star. Therefore, no precession. It is possible for a planets ...
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2answers
108 views

How accurate are our calculations about distant stars keeping in mind their enormous distances?

Since many stars are hundreds of light years away from the Earth and therefore, what we observe of them today is really their distant past, how can we say anything with certainty about their ...
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2answers
269 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. ...
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0answers
40 views

What's the shocks mach number in this specific problem?

The shock wave I'm interested in occurs for a special Riemann problem, known as 1D Noh's problem. It means basically that two streams of air (equal density) are colliding at $x = 0$ for $t = 0$; I ...
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3answers
95 views

State of the Stars

What's the state of stars? I'm not pretty sure whether the stars are stationary or rotating. For instance, if they are not rotating what makes them to be stable?
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2answers
242 views

How to calculate gravity inside the star?

Gravity must decrease due to less effective mass when going inside the object but also must increase with depth inside the star due to its higher density. Is there a model or formula approximating ...
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3answers
3k views

Why does a supernova explode

This is really bugging me. When you look up some educational text about stars life, this is what you find out: Gravity creates the temperature and pressure to start fusion reactions. The fusion ...
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2answers
72 views

Studying Physics [closed]

I'm preparing for entry into a Physics degree course, and was planning on a double major in Physics (with a specialization in Quantum Information later) but am now considering a minor in ...
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2answers
250 views

Light formed by the sun?

This is an extract from the astrophysics chapter in my book: Hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium. At the same time, lots of of gamma photons and neutrinos are produced. The photons take thousands ...
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1answer
128 views

Stress-Energy Tensor

As of recent, I've been doing a bit of self education in GR, equipped with a working knowledge of the key elements of the differential geometry in GR, and in looking at the Einstein-Rosen bridge, I ...
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1answer
1k views

Escape velocity of a rocket standing on Ganymede (Moon of Jupiter)

I want to calculate the escape velocity of a rocket, standing on the surface of Ganymede (moon of Jupiter) and trying to leave Ganymede. My thinking was, the kinetic energy $E_{\text{KIN}}$ must be ...
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3answers
593 views

Do neutron stars reflect light?

The setup is very simple: you have a regular ($1.35$ to $2$ solar masses) evolved neutron star, and you shine plane electromagnetic waves on it with given $\lambda$. Very roughly, what shall be the ...
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2answers
107 views

Could Gamma ray bursts be caused by matter-antimatter annihilation?

As far as I know a collisions of matter and antimatter leads to the complete annihilation of both, whereby 100% of the rest mass of the particles is converted into gamma rays. Could this mechanism be ...
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2answers
81 views

Are leptons, baryons and energy the only products of radioactive decay?

I recently visited my child's elementary school to speak to a science classroom about rocks and minerals. While trying to explain what a crystal is, I got sloppy and mis-spoke that an atom was the ...
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2answers
847 views

How was the Oh-My-God particle observed?

How exactly was the Oh-My-God particle (ultra-high energy cosmic ray) observed and its energy measured?
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1answer
191 views

Do all planets have an electric charge?

Do all planets have an electric charge? If yes, is positive or negative? And how much each magnitude? I have read some articles which really confused me. Some of these articles said that all ...
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1answer
81 views

Could the Sun be partly powered by cosmic rays?

The Earth and the Sun has magnetic fields which shields us from cosmic rays, as a charged cosmic ray particle will loose kinetic energy when its direction is perpendicular to the magnetic field. So ...
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1answer
179 views

Why do galaxies “dissappear?”

So, this is a dumb question but a bit of information confused me lately. Before, I figured galaxies were no longer visible by us because their luminosity decreased in an inverse square manner. ...
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2answers
120 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 ...
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1answer
53 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 ...
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4answers
165 views

Observed composition of UHE cosmic rays

How much is known about the composition of ultra high energy cosmic rays (say $E>10^{20}\text{ eV}$)? I get the impression that the particles are often assumed to be protons or other heavier ...
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1answer
143 views

Would a collapsing Universe have the density of water?

I understand that the typical density of the super massive black hole is close that of the water. It is also my understanding that this density is not true matter density because the volume used to ...
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2answers
114 views

A thought about Quasars

If Quasars are "beams" of energy exiting a super-massive black hole, in order for them to get through the black-hole's event horizon, they'd have to be traveling faster than the speed of light. My ...
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1answer
487 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 ...
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84 views

Modelling a matter dominated universe collapsing into a black hole

With the FLRW equations we can get solutions for a matter dominated closed universe in which the finale is an ultimate collapse, but this is only in terms of $a$ (the scale factor) and $t$ (time) and ...
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5answers
3k views

Why does a star collapse under its own gravity when the gravity at its centre is zero?

The gravity at the centre of a star is zero as in the case of any uniform solid sphere with some mass. When a massive star dies, why does it give rise to a black hole at it's centre? I know how to ...
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0answers
98 views

How fast do large asteroids usually travel?

I have just watched this video made by discovery channel, and you can hear the narrator at 0:51 saying that : "even though it is moving at 720 THOUSANDS kilometers per hour..." I stopped once I heard ...
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3answers
11k 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 ...
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3answers
1k views

What nonlinear deformations will a fast rotating planet exhibit?

It is common knowledge among the educated that the Earth is not exactly spherical, and some of this comes from tidal forces and inhomogeneities but some of it comes from the rotation of the planet ...
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0answers
43 views

Mass of dark matter

The Alcubierre warp equation specifies that negative mass is required for said "warp drive" to function properly. Could dark matter provide the negative mass that's required?
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0answers
117 views

What is the theoretical geometry of bubble universes?

My research has led me to look into the idea of bubble universes which I don't know very much about. The first thing that I am looking for is understanding or visualising how could many bubbles ...
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1answer
57 views

Stellar Activity Cycle versus Metallicity

Our Sun exhibits sunspot max/mins on about a 11 year period. It's a G2 spectral class on the HR Diagram. We know that some stars exhibit "starspot" cycles of various intensities and periods. These ...
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1answer
80 views

(Polar jets) Is it possible that black holes radiate substantial amount of the mass/energy they accrete?

Is the amount of energy a black hole emit through polar jets comparable to the mass it accretes or is it negligible? Here I am mostly concerned about the observational findings as opposed to the ...
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0answers
63 views

Do wormholes have a side to their path through space?

In theory do wormholes have a side to their path through space? What is there at a point in line with the entry and exit, would anything look different at that point in space? Could a space ant get ...
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1answer
71 views

Implications of the Jeans mass

The minimum mass for the spontaneous collapse of a gas cloud is the Jeans mass. For low temperatures and high densities, this jeans mass is greater than the mass of a typical star. What are the ...
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2answers
103 views

Earliest terrestrial planet?

If I've understood correctly, the heavier elements needed for terrestrial planets such as iron can only form in supernova. If that is indeed true, how long since the beginning of the universe would ...
6
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2answers
763 views

Do black holes have infinite areas and volumes?

How to calculate the area / volume of a black hole? Is there a corresponding mathematical function such as rotating $1/x$ around the $x$-axis or likewise to find the volume?
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4answers
889 views

How would we see a near-lightspeed object emitting light?

Consider an object travelling near the speed of light relative to us (let it be a spaceship or a star), which is emitting light (consider it monochromatic resulting from a two level electronic ...