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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Power radiated by a star, black body model

let's say I want to model a star of radius $R$ at a distance $r$ from the Earth. I need to show that the apparent luminosity for frequency $\nu$ is equal to $$\ell(\nu)=\frac{2\pi h}{c^2}\left( ...
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102 views

Relationships between different measure of opacity

I'm reading some papers that compare different values for a materials opacity to a particular particle. The first is given as $\frac{dE}{dX}$, a single particles energy loss per unit column depth (X ...
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222 views

How to cut a stone on on a White Dwarf

I've heard that white dwarfs are extremely dense and hard. So, if I had a piece of white dwarf matter, would it be possible to cut it (or otherwise) into a custom shape? How could one do that?
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48 views

Dimensions of a variable celestial body?

I read (extern link to a filehoster, page 163 section 4.8) that a variable celestial object like a pulsar or quasar must be smaller than the distance the light travels in its variation period. Can ...
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203 views

Do any stars exist apart from galaxies?

Do any stars exist apart from galaxies? Do "maverick" stars exist?
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138 views

starlight flux on earth

I want to calculate if it is possible to photograph a subject lit only by starlight. I found one website claiming that a starlit scene is lv = -15 (daylight is lv 15, or 2^31 times brighter), but he ...
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100 views

Astronomical-wavelength radio (AWR) transmissions between cosmic plasmas?

My son asked me if electromagnetic waves longer than radio exist. I told him that even though physics permits such waves, there are no antennas long enough to radiate or detect them. However, on ...
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56 views

Function for heating of a planet by its star

I'm looking for an algorithmic model which will gives rough estimate of the average temperature of a planet's atmosphere (good enough to say whether there will be liquid water anywhere, or if metals ...
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80 views

Spread and direction of the cosmic background radiation

Something I can never understand is that where the cosmic background radiation spreads? If I know well, the cosmic background radiation is actually the light of the Big Bang. If it happened exactly ...
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Modeling the formation of a stellar system and matter accretion

I am trying to figure out what do I need to know to properly simulate the creation of a solar system from a particle cloud with random distribution of hydrogen atoms. Being more of a programming ...
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70 views

Solar sail area going to Proxima Centari [closed]

I have a physics question that I need some help with: "Proxima Centauri is a star in the Alpha Centauri solar system, it’s the nearest star to our sun (4.24light−years) ...
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155 views

Optical depth in astrophysics

How can be the exponential decay of the intensity $I$ via the optical depth $\tau$ be derived? $$I(\tau)=I(0)e^{-\tau} $$
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147 views

What if the antimatter in the center of our galaxy could annihilate and cause a chain reaction?

Being said that the antimatter - matter reaction is faster than that of a fission and fusion, what if the antimatter cloud found at the center of our galaxy could really able to react with matter from ...
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320 views

How would gravity change on a planet rotating around itself very fast?

Let's take a planet identical to Earth, but with rotation speed multiplied by ten thousand. What would happen with the gravity if it was spinning madly around itself? Would the centrifugal force make ...
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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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791 views

What stabilizes neutrons against beta decay in a neutron star?

Free neutrons are known to undergo beta decay with a half-life of slightly above 10 minutes. Binding with other nucleons stabilizes the neutrons in an atomic nucleus, but only if the fraction of ...
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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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Neutrinos vs. Photons: Who wins the race across the galaxy?

Inspired by the wording of this answer, a thought occurred to me. If a photon and a neutrino were to race along a significant stretch of our actual galaxy, which would win the race? Now, neutrinos ...
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352 views

Where do high-energy neutrinos come from?

Last week the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory published a press release reporting the possible discovery of two neutrinos with energies of over 1 PeV. Would anyone here be willing to help me ...
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687 views

What happens when a star undergoes gravitational collapse?

Immediately prior to becoming a supernova the core of some types of stars may suffer gravitational collapse. What happens to any planets in orbit around the star at the instant the mass is fully ...
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How long does a supernova last?

Just what the title indicates. Is a supernova over instantaneously? Or, does the (for want of a better word) explosion continue for a while? What is/are the order of timescales involved? EDIT: ...
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328 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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195 views

How do interstellar hydrogen atoms form stars?

I would like to learn the basics about how interstellar matter contracts into stars under the influence of gravity. Some of my questions: Let's assume an ideal and infinite large cloud of equally ...
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71 views

Has anyone studied a statistical scaling law for the universe? [closed]

How do named objects in the universe scale? Is there a predictable curve for an ordered list, say {atom, animal, planet, solar system, galaxy, etc}? Can you then use the analysis to predict when the ...
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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 ...
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1answer
752 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 ...
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160 views

Could a planet sized bubble of breatheable atmostphere exist?

I'm reading a book (Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder) that the main location is a planet called Virga, which contains air, water, and floating chunks of rock, and has no or a very small amount of ...
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77 views

What would be the effect of an excess of up quarks on stellar formation?

Suppose you had 80% up quarks, and only 20% down quarks. How would this affect stellar formation?
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75 views

White Dwarf radius

So I've been reading this about white dwarves, and various other sites about white dwarves. In all of them, they say that we can find the radius of a white dwarf by minimizing its total energy. I know ...
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62 views

Resources in space, and their distribution

I'm making a video game in which the economics of an interstellar civilization is important. What I'm wondering is, how are resources in space distributed? Since everything ultimately comes from ...
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3answers
713 views

What cosmic event would cause Sun rising from the west?

I'm wondering what kind of astronomical or geological events would cause the reversal of Earth's rotation. For instance, Is a meteorite passing very close to Earth able to reverse its rotation? Can ...
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51 views

Conversion of a star

I need to know what would happen to a star that has size 2 times the solar mass. I guess it would either be a neutron or red giant. Is that right?
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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 ...
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398 views

Are Neutron stars transparent?

Neutrons have no charge so they would not, I think, interact with photons. Would a neutron star be transparent?
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65 views

Initial separation of neutron star/black hole binaries?

How would I go about finding the distribution of initial separations (i.e. the lengths between the centres of mass) of stars that make up binary systems. I am interested in neutron stars and stellar ...
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160 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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Reconciling Units in Jeans' Criterion Formula

In "Physics and Chemistry of the Solar System" Jeans' Criterion is given as: $\frac{GmM}{R_c} = \frac{3mkT}{2}$ ... To me this suggests that on the left we have Joules, and on the right we have ...
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283 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 ...
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1answer
516 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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206 views

In Klein-Gordon, why should infinite downwards photon cascades be possible?

Here is a simple point about the standard interpretation of the Klein-Gordon equation that for the life of me I've never been able to understand: Why would the existence of true negative energy ...
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1answer
127 views

What are we all falling towards?

One meteorite fell on the ground in Russia, last week. In different circumstances, it could have orbited the earth, or perhaps pass close to the earth and then disappear into the space. It seems that ...
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Is the speed of sound almost as high as the speed of light in neutron stars?

Have you ever wondered about the elastic properties of neutron stars? Such stars, being immensely dense, in which neutrons are bound together by the strong nuclear force on top of the strong gravity ...
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99 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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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
228 views

Can we transfer burn to another planet at any time?

Assume delta-v isn't a problem and circular orbits. EDIT: Assume that you're already in orbit so you don't have to shift a massive load of fuel up, and the absolute ideal is something that has a ...
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284 views

Dark Matter 'Stars'

I'm aware that the Milky Way has a dark matter 'halo' around it, presumably a spherically symmetric distribution. But I'm completely ignorant regarding the theories explaining dark matter... Is there ...
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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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2answers
223 views

Total radiation flux from a star

I'm looking around the net to find good resources on how to compute total radiation flux from a given star at a given orbiting distance. Ideally I'd like to get not just the $W/m^2$ of the star, but ...
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147 views

Are the SI units used in astrophysics?

Just a curious question, do astrophysicist use the SI units, for example in this equation, $r = 5pc$, will this be converted to meters? And what does this $\nu$ stand for?
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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, ...