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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Starting postdoc in VHE Astrophysics with VERITAS and HAWK, what books to read? [duplicate]

I will be starting a postdoc in Astrophysics, particularly VHE gamma-rays with the VERITAS and HAWK observatories. I am coming from particle physics and am looking for some good books to get me up to ...
19
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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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3answers
308 views

Calculating the solar power hitting Earth

I'm trying to calculate the amount of power from the sun hitting the earth, but I am getting a number which is off by a factor of ~4. I calculate the "area" of the earth, as seen from the sun, and ...
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1answer
183 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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1answer
153 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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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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4answers
290 views

Can a planet form before the parent star ignites?

I'm unable to find an answer to my questions via my searches. This questions pertains to the timeline of a star system creation. My question: During the creation of a star system, can satellite ...
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2answers
82 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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1answer
179 views

Strömgren Sphere of Sun

I have a homework problem: The Sun emits $ \sim5 x 10^{23}$ photons per second with $hν > 13.6$ $eV$. If the density of hydrogen atoms in interplanetary space is $n =$ $109 m^{-3}$, what ...
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1answer
152 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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1answer
173 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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628 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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268 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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454 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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2answers
158 views

Does the term “dark matter” apply to nonluminescent bodies which still interact electromagnetically?

On the new Astronomy.SE site, I was having a short discussion on one of my answers. The basic discrepancy was; can MACHOs like black holes/brown dwarfs/neutron stars be termed "dark matter"? My ...
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1answer
95 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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1answer
176 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 ...
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1answer
145 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 ...
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1answer
138 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
202 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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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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2answers
88 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
273 views

Red Giant branch and Asymptotic Giant branch

What's the difference between the RGB and the AGB? I can't seem to find an clear distinction anywhere. Thanks.
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303 views

Dark age of universe when all fusion process ceases?

Some say we live in the golden age of the universe because there exits countless number of stars that shines in the dark universe. As the supply of gas for star formation is steadily being exhausted, ...
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1answer
844 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
446 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
437 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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194 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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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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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 ...
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1answer
2k 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
144 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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145 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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340 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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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. ...
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3answers
323 views

What keeps a gas giant from falling in on itself?

There is not enough gravity at the center to start nuclear fusion, but it seems that there would be plenty enough to collapse the planet.
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4answers
342 views

Interstellar dust/matter distribution

It is known that one of the main problems of interstellar flight is a presence of matter between stars in form of very fine dust and huge asteroids. Which can slowly (or fast) destroy any ship. What ...
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78 views

Plasma Propulsion system - Maximum Velocity [closed]

What is the maximum velocity that can be achieved using plasma propulsion if we could make a propulsion system as powerful as lightning ?
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3answers
154 views

What can we learn about physics by doing experiments at the end of the heliosphere?

My question is very naive, as I do not know cosmology and astrophysics. I am asking it just for general curiosity. All of us know that Voyager I is now going out of heliosphere, and now sending data ...
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3answers
145 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
170 views

Do celestial objects experience drag from the near vacuum of space?

For instance do the planets around the sun experience drag from the near vacuum of space? Or do the (hydrogen) atoms in interplanetary have a mean velocity near orbital speeds? And if so would (small) ...
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1answer
75 views

Why do cosmic bodies revolve? [duplicate]

Why do cosmic bodies such as planets, stars, satellites revolve? What made them to revolve after the formation of universe?
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1answer
976 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. ...
19
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2answers
552 views

How do spiral arms form?

Why aren't all spinning galaxies shaped as discs as my young mind would expect? I understand how the innermost parts of a galaxy spin faster than the outer parts, and that could explain why some ...
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1answer
156 views

What is the physics behind explosion of Stars? [closed]

Looking at the above photo, you will soon find it is impossible to explain what actually happens (with today's physics), in one word star is like a nuclear fusion bomb which its pressure is in ...
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1answer
482 views

Thermodynamically possible to hide a Dyson sphere?

You build a Dyson sphere around a star to capture all its energy. The outer surface of the Dyson sphere still radiates heat at much higher temperature than the cold space background, so you're easy to ...
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0answers
517 views

Map of the gravitational strength of the solar system

I am looking for a map or plot of the gravitational strength in the solar system. In an ideal world there should be something like google earth to move around in the solar system, zoom in and out and ...
3
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1answer
84 views

Mass loss in Red Giants via dusty-winds and chromosphere activity

I'm reading some literature on mass loss in the RGB/AGB branches and so far I'm getting a lot of information regarding mass loss via dusty-winds/pulsations but almost no explanation of mass loss by ...
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1answer
66 views

Astronomical measurements and data

For the sub-nuclear physics there is a database of the Particle Data Group, I was wondering if there was a similar on-line collection for astrophysics, such as energy absorption and emission spectra ...