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

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Axial Tilt and precession rate of exoplanets

The Earth's axis is 23.5 degrees away from othogonality to the ecliptic, and it takes about 26 000 years for it to precess fully. I have neither an intuitive sense nor the formula for precession ...
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406 views

What would the collision between a (large) solid planet and a gas giant be like?

Assuming a Jupiter-like planet and an Earth-like planet (Except, say... half the mass of Jupiter), what would happen when the two collide? For clarification: What would the actual collision be like? ...
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Are there certain alignments in planetary orbits that create interesting effects in the moons or planets?

We have some interesting examples such as Mercury's perihelion The planet Mercury is especially susceptible to Jupiter's influence because of a small celestial coincidence: Mercury's perihelion, ...
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Why does the Earth rotate? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why does every thing spin? So why would the Earth, or any planet for that matter, rotate along an axis? I know of no force which could come into play here, so i assume ...
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What does the phrase “limb of the earth” or “atmospheric limb” mean?

What does the term limb of the earth (see this question, for example) or atmospheric limb mean? The phrase strikes me as very odd, since earth is nearly spherical. Do other planets with atmospheres ...
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203 views

Why are planetary systems so rare?

According to this site there are 258 know planetary systems and 302 planets. Mostly each of the listed system has only 1 planet of Mercury's or Mars' size, while our system has up to 8 planets. From ...
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What is the largest sphere of liquid water that could exist in space held together under it's own gravity? [duplicate]

What is the largest theoretical sphere of liquid water that could exist in space held together under it's own gravity? I've always wondered if a planet the size of earth could exist as a single volume ...
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4k views

How do astronomers measure the distance of the planets from its star?

I know they have accurate means of measuring the distance of the planets in the Solar System from the Sun. I'm skeptical how can they use the same tools or techniques for other systems so far away as ...
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263 views

What does a planet look like in the infrared?

I've been trying to find a good source for what the planets look like in the infrared, specifically if viewed as a point source. I've been working with a low resolution telescope that senses in the ...
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3k views

What would happen to Earth if Saturn were to exit the Solar System?

Suppose Saturn simply vanished. How would that affect the rest of the Solar System, specifically Earth?
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57 views

Does Mercury have a balmy spot?

From Wikipedia: Although the daylight temperature at the surface of Mercury is generally extremely high, observations strongly suggest that ice exists on Mercury. Does that mean there could be a ...
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2k views

Is a water world possible, and for how long could it be stable?

I have several questions regarding this topic. First, could a water world be stable for thousands of years with most of its surface remaining covered in water. What would it take for this to be ...
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Computing Planetary Positions

Shortly, I will be beginning my third year at University in Computer Science, I am a software developer and I will be required to work on a final year project. My idea for my final year project is ...
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259 views

Is the planet Mesklin as described in Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity correct?

The book Mission of Gravity describes a planet with a mass of 16 times Jupiter spinning at a rate of one revolution every 17.75 minutes. This causes it to stretch out into an oblate spheroid and has ...
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2k views

Planetary Gravity and its effects

This is my first question on the Physics portion of Stack Exchange. I was hoping to get some light on the topic of gravity. I don't have much background knowledge of physics so I might as well start ...
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103 views

How to find the force of the compression at the core of a planet?

For example the core of the planet Jupiter, how to find out the magnitude of the force that compresses its core? and can that be thought of as the total force that holds the planet together?
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Lowest gravity on Earth's surface?

I am trying to determine which on Earth's surface has the lowest gravity. Googling is not finding anything concrete. My natural inclination would be to think of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, being on ...
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705 views

Gravitational force of the Earth [duplicate]

Why does gravitational force of the Earth decrease as we move towards the centre of the Earth? Where as inverse square rule says that distance is less than gravitational force is more.
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Radial fall in a Newtonian gravitational field [duplicate]

Suppose an object of mass $m$ starts at rest at a radial distance $ r_0$ from a perfectly spherical mass $M$ (where $m << M$), $r_0 > R =$ radius of $M$. Can we analytically determine when ...
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127 views

Length of day of a gas giant

How can the rotational speed, or the length of a day be determined or estimated in a planet which is composed entirely of non homogeneous fluids? There must be internal forces (pressure gradients, ...
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341 views

What is the critical mass of a planet to have an atmosphere like Earth's? [closed]

Small planets/orbits like Moon cannot have atmosphere because of their masses. They don't have enough gravity to hold an atmosphere. Then what is the critical mass that makes enough gravity to keep an ...
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1answer
2k views

Finding the position of a planet between two other planets of known mass and distance

Here is the question: A planet with mass $m$ and a second with mass $M$ are separated by a distance $d$. A third planet with mass $m_3$ happens to be midway between $M$ and $m$. Where could ...
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1answer
102 views

Gravity on and inside a planet-sized bi-lobed body

Admittedly, for yet another science-fiction project Say I have a planet-like body shaped like a sphere with a torus subtracted out of it, leaving a sort of "apple core" shape. Firstly, is the ...
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263 views

Earth-Moon orbiting each other after being engulfed by Red Giant

Recently some exoplanets were discovered which are thought to be the leftover cores of giant planets that had survived a star becoming a Red Giant and then shrinking back to a subdwarf. If giant ...
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344 views

Determining Average Tidal Effects

Maximum tidal heights vary widely across the globe, from 16 m in the Bay of Fundy to mere centimeters elsewhere. These variations are due to coastline and shoreline differences. This makes it ...
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295 views

Convert latitude of lowest altitude to argument of perigee?

I am designing an orbit around Mercury. I know the values I want for the semi-major axis, eccentricity, inclination, and RAAN. I want the altitude of closest approach (periapse) to occur at ...
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141 views

What coordinate system is used to describe planets positions in the universe?

How are planets positions described in the space and in respect to what? For example is Sun the origo and right now at this moment Earth has [coord_X, coord_Y, coord_Z]? or maybe [lng, lat]? ...
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181 views

Hemispheric dichotomy of Mars and unstable spin axis

Is the following explanation plausible? Can you spot any flaws? Mars doesn't have a large moon to stabilise its axis of rotation. At some point early in its formation its axis might have been ...
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Are we increasing the gravity of Earth with our population?

I have these questions related to my question title: Do we, other species and things have our own gravity? How much Gs a human have? Are we effecting Earth, nearby moons and planets with our ...
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179 views

What possible science could we do during the 2012 Venus transit? [closed]

I had previously asked about how useful everyday solar physics data is to other astronomers ... But about a year from now, we will have another Venus transit, where Venus will pass between the sun and ...
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How to concisely explain apparent retrograde motions of planets?

Some planetary orbits occasionally can appear to move backwards to an observer on the Earth? Does anyone know concise, clear, web-based visualizations, animations or tutorials that clearly show how ...
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76 views

Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact on Jupiter

When the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted with Jupiter it created a ball of fire 3000 Km high and it left a mark on the surface of the planet that was visible for weeks (source: Wikipedia). How was the ...
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319 views

What is the cause of planetary rotation. Not orbital rotation [closed]

I am a senior in high school, sixteen years old. I think differently than most in my class. Recently, I have been thinking about alternative causes for the rotation of our planets. My current thought ...
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292 views

Would a considerably big asteroid be disintegrated by the Earth's Roche limit?

If there was a big asteroid with a diameter of say 50km+ in a collision course with the Earth (not orbiting), would it disintegrate into smaller chunks due to the Earth's Roche limit, or the time it ...
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390 views

Can one predict mass distribution in a solar system given the mass of the star?

I'm trying to write a program to procedurally generate solar systems at a reasonably high level (I'm not interested in doing an n-body dust particle formation simulation). Is there some sort of ...
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4answers
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Is it possible for the planets to align?

We've all heard the statement that on the 21st of December, the planets in the solar system will "align" from the point of view of the Earth. I assume this means that they would all be in the same ...
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67 views

Vesta dwarf planet status

Now that we have close-up photos of Vesta, which the IAU had previously said was a candidate dwarf planet, when is the IAU going to decide the issue? Personally, Vesta doesn't look round enough to me. ...
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154 views

Proportionality constant in crater equations

I have searched for equations regarding craters and I came across two of them. The first one is from this NOAO website in the level two section. There, it says that, $$ D^3\propto E $$ where $E$ is ...
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Is it possible that only one hemisphere of a planet has an atmosphere?

Suppose there is a tidally locked planet orbiting a star. The planet's surface consists of a global ocean, that is, liquid water. At the inner hemisphere the temperature is so high that the water is ...
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Does Kepler's law only apply to planets?

Does Kepler's law only apply to planets? If so why doesn't it apply to other objects undergoing circular motion? By Kepler's law I'm referring to $T^2 \propto r^3$
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Changes in planetary orbit?

Forgive a novice and her naive curiosity, but I was wondering about planetary orbit and the aging of planets. As a planet ages, does its transit around its sun/star decrease or increase in speed? ...
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320 views

What is the mass distribution within the sun?

Jupiter is roughly 1/1000 the total mass of the sun. To get some idea of what effect Jupiter's gravity may have on the sun I'd like to know the approximate mass distribution of the sun. (i.e) the ...
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238 views

How could Horrocks have measured the AU?

I have always understood that the great historical significance of the transits of Venus, and the reason for the expeditions mounted to observe it, were that, by observing it simultaneously from two ...
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45 views

Hypothetical binary planet of different size and mass, would they tend to have the same size and mass?

Imagine a binary planet where one of the planet is of the size and mass of Jupiter (planet A) while the other would be like the Earth's moon (planet B). Imagine that this system is extremely stable ...
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1answer
154 views

Link between Earth and Mars

I am trying to the calculate the link budget for link between a ground station on Earth (with a particular latitude and longitude) and a rover at a particular location on the surface of Mars, either ...
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For the long-term evolution of atmosphere/orbit, when is perihelion more important than mean distance?

When we want to figure out the long-term evolution of a planet's atmosphere/orbit, when is perihelion more important than mean distance? E.g. some processes (like Jeans Escape and escape of ...
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3answers
59 views

What influence has the distance of the moon on the height of the tides?

As the Moon recedes from the Earth, are the tides getting taller or shorter? If the Moon is, someday, twice as far from the Earth, how many high tides will be there be each day?
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How many celestial bodies could be in stable orbit at roughly the same distance from a star?

How many planet-like celestial bodies of roughly the same mass (say within 50%) could orbit a star at roughly (say within 10%) the same distance from the star and be in stable orbits. By stable I ...
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138 views

Direction of planetary tilt

I am building a 3d solar system simulation using WebGL and have come across the problem of establishing the direction of tilt of the various planets. No I know the tilt of the planets in degrees what ...
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194 views

How big can a cube-shaped planet be? [duplicate]

There can be small cube planets or asteroids, but as they get bigger, the gravitational force compresses them to a sphere. But what is the maximum size?