Celestial body that orbits following an elliptical path around a star or stellar remnant.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

10
votes
1answer
138 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 ?
9
votes
4answers
13k views

Are there planets that do not rotate on their axis?

I was reading a thread about how a pendulum would be affected if the Earth did not rotate and Larian's answer made me wonder if all planets rotate necessarily due to physics. So that's the question: ...
9
votes
2answers
188 views

What are the prerequisites for considering any other planet to be habitable?

Well, there is a measure of how a planet could be considered like Earth, called Planetary habitability. Based on this measure, what are the prerequisites needed to consider a planet to be a habitable ...
9
votes
1answer
21 views

Ring height stats?

I'm working on a basic simulation system which will include planets with rings, I want to create dust and asteroids within a 3D ring but I'm struggling to find any stats on the sort of height ranges a ...
9
votes
1answer
167 views

Biggest crater in the Solar System

It seems that the biggest crater in the Solar System is Borealis Basin on Mars. The Wikipedia entry and this piece of news say it has been formed by an impact with a body of around 1600 - ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

If it was possible to dig a hole that went from one side of the Earth to the other…

...And you jumped in. What would happen when you got to the middle of the Earth? Would you gradually slow down, until you got to the middle and once you were in middle would every direction feel like ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What causes the orbital eccentricity?

I found some websites trying to attribute this to the external other forces affecting the 2 body problem to follow an elliptical rather than a circular orbit, but I am not convinced though. I think ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

How do you explain Kepler's third law in general terms without complex math?

I understand the first law-elliptical orbits, and the second-equal area in same time, but I need help with the third one. Note that I am not in an AP course or taking calculus at the moment so simple ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial spin?

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial rotation? Why do Venus and Mercury rotate so slowly compared to other planets? Why does Venus rotate in a different direction to Mercury, Earth and Mars? ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Are planetary orbits measured from the Sun's surface or centre?

I would imagine planetary orbits are measured from the Sun's centre and not its surface. Is that true? I can't find anywhere that actually states this.
8
votes
1answer
1k views

How big (compared to our moon) would Saturn look from Titan's surface?

How large in the night sky would Saturn look from Titan's surface? I believe they are tidally locked.
8
votes
2answers
192 views

Why do the terrestrial planets have many of the same gases in their atmospheres?

While the gases are present in very different abundances, and the atmospheres have very different pressures, Earth, Mars and Venus all have a similar cast of gases: nitrogen, argon, CO2, others in ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

What if the Moon was 100x more massive: Binary planets?

I was reading a couple of Earth-Moon related questions (Mars just collided with Earth! A question of eccentricity, Could the earth have another moon?) and they got me thinking about planet-moon ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

Do all known planets and moons have magnetic field?

In this Wikipedia article it is stated, that magnetic field of Earth is caused by currents in her core. The same origin is for Jupiter magnetic field. For Moon (article) there is a magnetic field, ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

What would happen if the polar ice caps of Mars melted?

My dad told me that Mars' polar ice caps are made of H2O and CO2. If they melt, would it add an atmosphere to Mars and allow life?
8
votes
1answer
1k views

For observing planets what kind of telescope offers the best view?

I've heard that using a refractor is better than a reflector when it comes to planets to best reproduce their colors. But perhaps other factors can weight in too? For example, do you want a slow or ...
8
votes
3answers
446 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does Jupiter emit more energy than it receives?

I hear that Jupiter and Saturn emit more energy than they receive from the Sun. This excess energy is supposedly due to contraction. Is this accepted as fact (or is it controversial)? Does this ...
8
votes
1answer
66 views

How does the atmospheric UVB attenuation of terrestrial planets compare?

On Earth, UVB (280nm - 315nm or 320nm depending on the source) undergoes extensive attenuation through the atmosphere, when observed at the planet's surface, as illustrated below: Image source ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Rocky Planet in the center of System [duplicate]

We all know that mostly stars are at the center of planetary systems, but is it possible that instead of a star there was a rocky planet in the center with stars (and other planets and moons) orbiting ...
7
votes
3answers
17k views

What is the official difference between a planet and a dwarf planet?

I'm trying to understand how objects are classified as planets, moons, or dwarf planets. Can someone please explain the differences between them? I'm really curious about why Pluto is a dwarf planet, ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the irregularity in Uranus' orbit that is caused by Neptune?

I carefully read the Wikipedia article Discovery of Neptune, and I don't get what the irregularity of Uranus orbit was that lead to the discovery of Neptune. Years ago, I watched some educational film ...
7
votes
2answers
139 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is the surface of Venus so hot?

Whenever I have seen Venus described, its high surface temperature is attributed to an intense greenhouse effect. This seems to make sense, as its atmosphere is roughly 96% CO2. But on Earth, the ...
7
votes
1answer
221 views

Will Neptune change Pluto's orbit some day?

My seven-year-old son loves astronomy-- so much so that we read space books before bed time. One of our books talks about Pluto's orbit crossing over Neptune's orbit and will be (or is) closer to the ...
7
votes
1answer
75 views

Is it possible to determine astronomically/astrophysically whether other planets have ever encountered polarity reversal?

We know of geomagnetic flip in Earth's history by studying geologic data. Given other planets in the system also possess a magnetic field leads to the assumption that such polarity reversal may not be ...
7
votes
1answer
54 views

Are there Trojan family or Hilda family satellites locked in Earth's orbit?

Jupiter has many Trojan asteroids located at Lagrangian points L4 and L5 and Hilda asteroids dispersed between points L3, L4, and L5. Does the Earth have similar satellites? If so, how many?
7
votes
3answers
334 views

Falling through the rotating Earth

Suppose you were standing on the rotating Earth (not necessarily Equator or the poles) and suddenly your body lost the ability to avoid effortlessly passing through solid rock. Because the earth's ...
7
votes
1answer
121 views

How plausible is a subsurface ocean on Pluto?

According to this article on physorg.com, it's likely that Pluto has a subsurface ocean of liquid water. It suggests that the ocean would be about 165 km deep, under an equally deep crust of solid ...
7
votes
3answers
74 views

Is a rogue 'exoplanet' classed as a exoplanet?

Given that the term planet strictly (according to the IAU) refers to a body around the sun, rogue planets can't be called that, so I assume they must be called rogue exoplanets? But do they even ...
7
votes
2answers
167 views

Why aren't there any clear planets/ stars?

Most gases are clear. So why are there not any planets or stars that are more or less clear in color? I suspect this question may be extremely stupid.
7
votes
2answers
545 views

How does one calculate where the “surface” of a gas-giant would be?

Okay, so Jupiter, Saturn, et. al are gas giants. I understand that they have large gassy atmospheres, which, due to the pressure would eventually become more and more dense as one approaches the ...
7
votes
1answer
311 views

Atmospheric Circulation

What is the simplest simulatable model giving our rotating earth its 3 circulation cells (Hadley, Ferrel, Polar)? The model should also show 1 circulation cell if the earth's rotation were stopped (or ...
7
votes
2answers
311 views

What structural or chemical mechanism results in Saturn having a density less than that of water?

According to NASA’s Saturn fact sheet, Saturn has a density considerably less than water and the lowest density of the major planets. What compositional and/or structural mechanisms are theorised to ...
6
votes
6answers
4k views

Why is the universe so organized?

If you think about the Big Bang and the flow of matter in all directions, you would think, how unorganized would this universe be? No matter how long it would take. The idea that matter or most of it ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Binary Star system with one star stationary?

Can a Binary Star system be possible where in one star is stationary and the other star revolves around it? (Just like a planet revolving a star. i.e planets in the system and the star revolving ...
6
votes
4answers
353 views

What is the general relativity explanation for why objects at the center of the Earth are weightless?

The idea that as you move through the earth you get a symmetric cancelling of gravitational acceleration which approaches zero acceleration due to gravity at the center of the earth makes a lot of ...
6
votes
3answers
971 views

Does the Earth actually rotate around the sun? [duplicate]

Why does one say that the Earth rotates around the sun? There should be no preferred reference frame and from an observer on the sun, the sun will rotate around the Earth.
6
votes
5answers
5k views

What sustains the rotation of earth's core (faster than surface)?

I recently read that the earth's core rotates faster than the surface. Well, firstly, it's easier to digest the concept of planetary bodies, stars, galaxies in rotation and/or orbital motion. But, ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Are “broken” planets possible in the real world?

In the Star Wars universe, there are mentioned (or rather shown) two planets that had some kind of great explosion in their history. First is Peragus, with its exposed core, that partially exploded ...
6
votes
1answer
59 views

Transit of Mercury: how did he see it?

On November 7, 1631 Pierre Gassendi saw the transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun. How did he see it? I mean what instrument was used to reduce the apparent brightness of the Sun?
6
votes
2answers
426 views

Does a tidally locked planet have seasons?

Could a tidally locked planet have seasons? According to my understanding, a tidally locked planet rotates around itself exactly once per rotation around its sun. However, if the axis of rotation of ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

How do we determine what distant planets, stars etc are made of?

I remember this being covered somewhat back in school and I have casually read about it. I know it involves inferring from spectral analysis what physical properties an object may have right? Though ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Correlation between speed, distance, mass, etc between a planet and a star (or moon and planet)?

While playing around with some little scripts, generating solar systems, I started to wonder about the correlation between the different objects. Up until now, distance, mass, size and speed are ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

How many Pluto sized planetoids have been discovered?

How many planetoids have been discovered that are, say, 50% the size of Pluto or larger? Where are they? Incidentally, what is the difference between a planet, a planetoid, and an asteroid?
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What planets are visible to the naked eye from Mars?

Here on Earth we are blessed with being able to see some other planets, Mars & Venus etc, with the naked eye on a fairly regular basis thanks to the distance between the planets. What about from ...
6
votes
1answer
33 views

Liquid Water in “mid-ice” on Europa. Mechanism?

Recently I read this entry by Dr. Phil Plait (a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer). He is talking about a lake of water contained within the ice layer of Europa. the lake is completely embedded in the ice ...
6
votes
1answer
163 views

Why doesn't space junk form a ring around Earth?

If ice and rock form rings around a planet like Saturn, why don't rings form around Earth from all of the broken satellites and other material around Earth, or will they eventually? I would expect at ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the percentage of stars with planetary systems

We have discovered quite a number of exoplanets to date. The Kepler spacecraft has examined 150,000 stars and found 1,059 exoplanets. We know that Kepler, as well as all other exoplanet searches to ...
6
votes
1answer
161 views

Frequency of nomad planets passing within 30 AU of the sun

A recent estimate by the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (a joint institute of Stanford and SLAC) is that there are circa 100000 times as many 'nomad planets' as stars I ...