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

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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 ...
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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225 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 ...
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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 ...
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163 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 ...
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281 views

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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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 it ...
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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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208 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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Could the sky on a planet theoretically be any color?

The sky on the Earth is blue. Could the color of the sky on a planet with an atmosphere be of any color theoretically? Which colors are the most likely? I think it would be really awesome to have ...
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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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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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272 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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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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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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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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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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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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2answers
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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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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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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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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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221 views

Could planets survive their star becoming a black hole? [duplicate]

Would the supernova responsible for its formation destroy them. The question becomes one of how destructive the supernova event is to its own solar system - does it completely evaporate all planets up ...
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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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134 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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376 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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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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108 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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355 views

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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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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364 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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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 $60.0^{\...
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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 gravity?...
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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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Does surface tension play a role in planet's shape?

I'm thinking that when the planets and stars were forming along with gravity surface tension also could have played a role in making them spherical. Am I correct?
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Why does the moon not revolve around the sun directly?

The sun pulls on the moon with a force that is more than twice the magnitude of the force with which the earth attracts the moon. Why, then, doesn’t the sun take the moon away from the earth?
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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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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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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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2answers
317 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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3answers
423 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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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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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 ...