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 is the origin and nature of the “hydrogen envelope” located on the sun side of a comet coma?

It is tempting to assume the origin of the hydrogen is water vapor from the comet, in which case, what process "breaks up" the water molecule (or perhaps ammonia molecule?)? Is the hydrogen actually ...
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2answers
21 views

When a star turns into a red giant what stops its core contracting

I recently asked this question When do stars become red giants? and am now wondering when the star's core is contracting after it has fused H to He what force stops the contraction just before it ...
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1answer
63 views

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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45 views

Mass density of dark matter in solar system near us

What is the approximate mass density of dark matter in our solar system at the radius of the Earth's orbit? I would like some idea of the mass of dark matter going through each cubic meter of ...
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1answer
31 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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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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43 views

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

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
51 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
58 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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26 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
94 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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37 views

Electron degeneracy pressure

Why is it that in stars undergoing gravitational collapse electron degeneracy kicks in? Why couldn't the electrons form energy bands like in semiconductors?
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74 views

Stellar Power(Luminosity) Flux

So I was applying some mathematical techniques I learned to physics, and one thing that captured my interest, is the power or luminosity flux of a star. So modeling the situation, taking the scalar ...
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2answers
57 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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145 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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37 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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0answers
43 views

Why are cgs units the norm in astrophysics?

Other physics communities, e.g. the particle physics one, have their own set of units, custom-tailored to their own needs. Now, the astrophysics community is somewhat similar, in that a lot of ...
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1answer
86 views

Is there a connection between exclusion principle and the speed of light?

As far as I know exotic stars are composed of degenerate matter created by the balance between gravity and pressure of exclusion principle and as the mass of the star grows it goes into more ...
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26 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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3answers
153 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
92 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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172 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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23 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
77 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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188 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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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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3answers
518 views

What stabilizes neutorns 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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1answer
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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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Size of universe after inflation?

Wikipedia states the period of inflation was from $10^{-36}$sec to around $10^{-33}$sec or $10^{-32}$sec after Big Bang, but it doesn't say what the size of the universe was when inflation ended. ...
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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
191 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
87 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
418 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
51 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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68 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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736 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
113 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
58 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
115 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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87 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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45 views

Inward Pressure of Gravity

We are looking at White Dwarfs in Quantum and specifically how they are stabilized between gravitation pressure inwards balanced by the Fermi pressure due to electrons. To start the problem off ...
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3answers
2k views

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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1answer
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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
133 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
113 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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1answer
68 views

Why does a star beyond a certain mass limit (Chandrasekhar limit) only become a black hole?

Why does a star beyond a certain mass limit (Chandrasekhar limit) only become a black hole? A star is first made of hydrogen, it undergoes nuclear fussion reaction combining into helium and ...
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2answers
102 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
350 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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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 ...