The methods and techniques for gathering astronomical data, as well as the limitations thereof.

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Photometric surveys vs. Spectroscopic surveys

I consistently read about certain astronomical surveys which are either described as "photometric surveys" or "redshift surveys". I'm still unclear as to how these two methods differ. Photometry ...
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72 views

Mass-to-light ratio and rotation curve from brightness profile

This should probably be basic but I've been looking for days and I can't find how to (I'm probably over complicating, but still). I want to calculate a rotation curve for some spiral galaxies. From ...
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50 views

If there were intelligent life in another galaxy, would we notice? [closed]

I've read that once intelligent life successfully achieves interstellar travel, it could populate the galaxy in tens of millions of years, likely populating the most habitable planets and preventing ...
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41 views

What prevents Digital interferometry in an optical telescope array?

I understand it is common to combine an array of radio telescopes in to a single instrument using interferometry. This has the photon collecting area of the combined radio telescopes but an aperture ...
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263 views

How to tell if a star is in a galaxy?

An astronomer is studying a star that appears to be in a galaxy. How does the astronomer know the star is actually in the galaxy and not just on the same line of sight as the galaxy? I'm guessing ...
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29 views

CMB parameter, what's the meaning of the matter power spectrum normalization sigma_8?

Most CMB experiments like WMAP and Planck include a certain cosmological parameter called $\sigma_8$. My understanding is that normalization of the matter power spectrum is not a theoretical ...
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24 views

How much cheaper and smaller on average is SiPM technology over conventional PMTs?

I've heard it said that some of the major advantages of silicon photomultipliers are its low cost and compactness when compared to widely used photomultiplier tubes, but haven't found much information ...
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46 views

Seeing the shadow of a black hole

Why can't we see the shadow of a black hole cast on earth. Shouldn't the black hole block some light from a star or a galaxy far behind as they line up.
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56 views

Confusion with the meaning of CMB

We say that CMB is the radiation leftover from big bang. When we measure the radiations i.e., the flux of photons in a given microwave range (say 0.1cm to 70cm, for example), in deep sky, there are ...
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89 views

How can an event happening 5.5 billion light years away be witnessed in “real-time”?

This article https://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/2578-cosmic-radio-burst-caught-red-handed states that "These bursts were generally discovered weeks or months or even more than a decade after ...
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314 views

How are problems in astronomical spectroscopy solved?

Astronomers based on the ground telescopes, watch the stars and make predictions about them based on the spectrum of light. But when the light from those stars reach the telescopes through the ...
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153 views

How were the ratios of distances between planets and the Sun first calculated?

I was reading some literature and I found that long before the actual distances between other planets and Earth or distance between Sun and Earth were known, physicists had calculated the ratios ...
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31 views

Why is the Great Dark Spot so shortliving unlike the Great Red Spot?

The Great Dark Spot is an anti-cyclone in Neptune. But unlike the Great Red Spot of Jupiter which lasts for more than hundred years, the Great Dark Spot exists for only one year or so. Why is it so??
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204 views

What is the average mass of galaxies according to Hubble Deep and Ultra Deep field observations?

It is very widely known among people interested in astronomy that there are 100-400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy and there are ~ 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, which is ...
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100 views

Cosmic rays and neutrinos

I'm reading Gaggero's Cosmic Ray Diffusion in the Galaxy and Diffuse Gamma Emission and he makes the claim, ...the definitive proof of [Cosmic Ray proton acceleration in supernova remnants] would ...
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3answers
913 views

What is the most compelling evidence of General Relativity in the presence of matter and energy?

The most oft-cited triumphs of GR are things such as the shifting perihelion of Mercury, gravitational redshift experiments, and gravitational lensing. But, as far as I know, these are only ...
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149 views

What is the area of the sky that is covered by the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image?

I have found two different numbers for the area of the sky covered by the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). According to this, the image is roughly 2.4 arcminutes wide. The image is also attached to the ...
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289 views

What does this stellar mass distribution mean?

According to this pie above and for the "Red Dwarfs" part, which of these is correct : 1) 41% of the stellar mass of a galaxy is in stars with masses < $0.25$ $M_{\odot}$ or 2) 41% of the ...
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124 views

Is there a confirmation of dark matter signal?

Dark matter, as we know does not emit light, so confirmation of its presence is indirect. Are there any recent indirect confirmations of dark matter. A place one would look for in detecting dark ...
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41 views

If we increase the aperture of a telescope and decrease its magnification, can it be harmful to the eyes?

The full moon is the brightest object in the night sky. I believe that if we increase the aperture of the objective, and decrease the magnification of the telescope, it might concentrate a dangerous ...
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60 views

According to the initial mass function, should there be more brown dwarfs than red dwarfs?

According to the IMF and the stellar mass distribution, stars become more abundant the less massive they are. And while objects must have a mass > 0.075 solar mass to become a star, brown dwarfs with ...
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692 views

What is the luminosity of the Milky Way galaxy?

The luminosity of the Milky Way galaxy according to this is $5\times10^{36}$ Watts, but this number suggests that there are about 10 billion stars with Solar luminosities in the Milky Way, which ...
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184 views

How far has a 13.7 billion year old photon travelled

I've read that the size of the observable Universe is thought to be around ~46 billion light years, and that the light we see from the most distant galaxies were emitted ~13.7 billion years ago as a ...
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47 views

Mass of NGC 1097 Galaxy

I've been looking all over the internet for this and can't seem to find a reference. Can anyone refer me to a paper citing the mass of NGC 1097 based on luminosity?
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62 views

What fraction of baryonic matter is in stars?

We know from big bang nucleosynthesis that baryonic matter accounts for about 5% of the universe's total mass-energy density. What is the current best estimate of how much of this is in the form of ...
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24 views

Synthesising types of galaxies using various stellar spectra

I have been given the task of synthesising an elliptical galaxy, a starburst galaxy and a spiral galaxy (considering the arms and the bulge separately and adding them) using stellar spectra which I ...
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65 views

How the distance and diameter of the stars are experimentally measured?

How to measure the distance of a star and the diameter of it from earth based tools? Normally we can measure the angle between the stars edge. But diameter or distance needed to measure the other ...
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27 views

Interferometry works as a filter

I attended an astronomy seminar the other day and though I did not pick up much as it was on data collection etc, I did take away one sentence: "Interferometry works as a filter" Now I know what ...
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146 views

How do we estimate $10^{23}$ stars in the observable universe?

Now, I read somewhere, that there are $10^{23}$ stars in the observable universe. How did scientists estimate this?
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125 views

Do septuple (7), octuple (8) or nonuple (9) star system exist?

The highest I found so far is Castor, a sextuple star system. And there doesn't seem to be any other sextuple star system within at least 100 light-years...
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43 views

Do the different observed Type Ia supernovae have similar explosion energy?

I have been trying to read about the energetics of observed supernovae for some time. And while the observed core-collapse supernovae have many scientific papers about them trying to estimate the ...
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29 views

Optical interferometers resolution

I found this interesting list of optical interferometers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_astronomical_interferometers_at_visible_and_infrared_wavelengths But I can't understand which is the ...
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69 views

A question concerning the act of observing distant galaxies

The comoving radius of the observable universe is currently put at $46$ to $47$ billion light years. Source wikipedia. When we observe galaxies at great distance, such as the Hubble Deep Field at ...
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86 views

Sedna, VP113 and the likelihood of the PX/Tyche/Thelistos hypotheses

The recent discoveries in exoplanetary science (specially those findings of planets orbiting far far away from its parent star/stars) raise questions about how much we know about the (true, AIU ...
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36 views

What's the evidence, if any, for some local concentration(s) of dark matter in some region(s) smaller than a galaxy?

What's the evidence, if any, for some local concentration(s) of dark matter in some region(s) smaller than a galaxy? Galactic-sized--or larger--gravitating halos seem to get all the attention. I'm ...
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2answers
133 views

Can a point source be located more accurately out-of-focus or in-focus?

Let's say I am taking a picture, and I know a priori that the image is of a single ideal point source of light at infinity. With a perfect imaging system in focus, the image shows an Airy disk. I ...
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67 views

How stellar aberration is measured?

A simple calculation shows that stellar aberration due orbital motion of earth is roughly 20 arcseconds. My questions are: Practically how this small value is measured? Does this value is in the ...
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46 views

Why is solar eclipse so important for sunlight spectrum analysis?

People wait for decades to catch the chance of a solar eclipse to observe the sun. Why cannot they do it every noon?
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90 views

The reason(s) of seasons on earth

This maybe simple and usual question, although there is a lot of confusion about it over internet and even in some books, so I want from an astronomer / astrophysicist to fill the gaps for me ...
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159 views

How to calculate error of parallax and sextant based navigation?

First of all, why wasn't the sextant ever used for land navigation? The horizon is easier to see at sea, but land based sextants could be used in conjunction with artificial horizons (as at sea when ...
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253 views

How was this dot identified as a mystery planet originally (Pluto in this case)?

I was watching a documentary on a mission to study Pluto. At 21:11, an image is presented with an arrow mark pointing a small dot which is now identified as Pluto. As there are hundreds of dots on ...
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34 views

How is the formula derived for finding the field of view given drift time and declination of a star?

How is the formula for field of view derived given the drift time of a star and its declination? $FOV = (drift\ time \cdot \cos(declination)\cdot360 ) / 86164$
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161 views

How to practically find the RA-DEC coordinates of a star?

How are RA-DEC (Right Ascension & Declination) coordinates of a star measured i.e. if scientist spot a new star in the sky how do they accurately measure it's coordinates?
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26 views

Velocity dispersion of galaxies

I couldn't find on web how can I get the velocity dispersion and velocity maps of galaxies from the 3D data cube I get from integral field spectrograph.
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51 views

Why can't Wetterich's “Universe without expansion” be tested compared to standard cosmological redshift?

I have read on several sites that this is a theory that cannot be tested. Why is this a theory that can not be tested? It seems to me that if the mass of particles is continually increasing, then the ...
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121 views

How did Kepler arrive at his laws?

How did Kepler arrive at his laws? If one already knows the distances to the planets (and the eccentricity of the orbits etc.) it is understandable how one might proceed to establish the second and ...
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61 views

Gamma ray bursts luminosity measurement

physicists use millisecond fluxes i.e.,fluxes calculated within a very short timescale to measure the actual 1 second flux for these grbs.But to do that they have to multiply the millisecond fluxes ...
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675 views

Radians to Rotate Earth to Match ECI Lat/Lon with ECEF Lat/Lon

I am attempting to model GPS Satellite positions on the globe for a set of ephemerides. I have a verified set of ECI ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth-centered_inertial ) XYZ Coordinates and a ...
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86 views

Calculus used by Gauss to find Ceres' position?

With very little data, the great mathematician Gauss was able to predict the exact location of where to find the asteroid Ceres. If possible I would like a reconstruction of his work, from the data ...
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64 views

Is it possible to build an optical system that increases the perceived surface brightness?

So is it possbile to build a system from lenses and mirrors that can make faint gas nebulas brighter or can be used as nightvision? If you increase the size of the aperture of a telescope it will ...