The Sun plus the collection of bodies in orbit around the Sun such as planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, comets, etc.

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1answer
117 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 ...
11
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3answers
6k views

What are the facts that allow accepting the Oort cloud theory?

I admit without any fact that the Oort cloud (comet reservoir) should exist, and it seems to be accepted by far by the large majority of astronomers. But it is still a theory without any direct ...
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2answers
3k views

Is it true that our solar system belongs to another galaxy which collides with the milky way galaxy?

I have just read an article about it here(http://www.greatdreams.com/2012.htm)(Scroll to bottom). I'm just a website developer, and I really want to know if this is really true. I'm curious. I'm ...
14
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2answers
3k views

Why Aren't Saturn's Rings Clumping into Moons?

While reading with my son about how a Mars-like planet collided with the early Earth that resulted in our current moon, it said the initial debris also formed a ring, but that ring ended up getting ...
7
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1answer
195 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 ...
6
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3answers
476 views

“Reverse engineering” of a horoscope?

I'll start with a disclaimer -- this is not a question about astrology itself, I'm neither trying to refute nor to defend astrology. I'm interested in purely technical things, which are mostly ...
7
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8answers
6k views

How does the earth move?

My son who is 5 years old is asking me a question about how the earth moves around the sun. What answer should I give him?
0
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1answer
483 views

What are the known relationships between rotation of planets/moons and their distance to Sun?

What are the known relationships between rotation of planets/moons and their distance to Sun? Or any other known attributes? For example, the sidereal year for planets is directly related to their ...
14
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5answers
5k views

Why do we always see the same side of the Moon? [duplicate]

I am puzzled why we always see the same side of the Moon even though it is rotating around its own axis apart from revolving around the earth. Shouldn't this only be possible if the Moon is not ...
39
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2answers
2k views

Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer?

I always see pictures of the solar system where our sun is in the middle and the planets surround the sun. All these planets move on orbits on the same layer. Why?
11
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4answers
630 views

Is solar wind positively charged?

Many times I heared that the solar wind consists of protons and alpha particles. The both are positively charged, but are there electrons in solar wind?
7
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3answers
3k 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 ...
4
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1answer
138 views

Does the Earth help stabilize changes in the moon's obliquity as well?

We know that the moon helps stabilize changes in Earth's obliquity. But what about Earth and the moon? Are some of the obliquity-stabilizing effects (of the moon on the Earth) communicated through ...
3
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1answer
215 views

How do the day/night temperature variations of moons compare to those of their planets?

Does the planet's eclipse have a significant impact on the flux of light hitting the moon? Does tidal locking have any effect on the day-night difference of the planet?
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3answers
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
28 views

Meteorites from Mars?

So I've heard of meteorites "originating from Mars" (e.g. AH84001), but the phrase confuses me. I'm interested in what this means - have these rocks somehow escaped Mars' gravity and ended up here; or ...
0
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1answer
414 views

How does the average Mars-Jupiter distance compare with the average Earth-Jupiter distance?

One thing is certain: Mars can be further from Jupiter than Earth can ever be (when they're on opposite sides of the solar system), but Mars can also be closer from Jupiter than Earth can ever be. ...
1
vote
1answer
53 views

How did micrometeorite flux change with the age of the solar system?

Do we also have functions for the micrometeorite flux on the Moon, Mars, and even any random body in space as a function of solar distance too?
3
votes
1answer
97 views

When will Enceladus run out of water?

So its geyser eruptions are the primary source of water in Saturn's atmosphere (from this thread). And they even manage to contaminate Titan's atmosphere with it. But has the outgassing rate ...
2
votes
1answer
133 views

Are the inner planets on planar orbits because there was more dust in the inner solar system (early on in planetary accretion)?

Question inspired by a question thread here. So when there's lots of dust in a galaxy, the galaxy tends to collapse into a spiral galaxy (to maintain angular momentum and to minimize gravitational ...
3
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3answers
87 views

Distribution of each element and molecule as a function of distance from the Sun and as a function of time

Are there any graphs that show the distribution of each element and molecule as a function of distance from the Sun? And maybe even the time-evolution of each distribution over the solar system's ...
4
votes
1answer
66 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. ...
3
votes
1answer
775 views

At what temperature does water become a liquid on Mars? On the asteroids? And in a vacuum?

I know that I can just read off the phase diagram for water (for the surface atmospheric pressure on each object). But could there possibly be some nuances that someone might miss just from viewing ...
6
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3answers
5k views

Why did the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter form as it did?

I'm curious about why the asteroid belt wasn't pulled by Mars's or Jupiter's gravity or formed into either moons or planets. Why did it form into an asteroid belt instead?
3
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2answers
158 views

Could Jupiter's gravity destabilize Earth's artificial satellites over a long timescale?

Could Jupiter's gravity destabilize Earth's artificial satellites over a long timescale? After all, it can destabilize Mercury's orbit, and it can also destabilize orbits in the asteroid belt.
10
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2answers
157 views

When the Sun goes red giant, will it “vaporize” away a significant fraction of Jupiter and Saturn moons?

Since Jupiter and Saturn's moons are composed of a rock+ice mix. For example, Callisto is 50% rock and 50% ice. When the Sun finally goes red giant, could it melt a significant portion of the 50% of ...
5
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2answers
159 views

Are orbits interior to Jupiter's orbit less stable than orbits exterior to Jupiter's orbit?

Or in other words, are there differences in average Lyapunov timescale between orbits interior to Jupiter and orbits exterior to Jupiter? I'm trying to answer a question at ...
20
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2answers
10k views

Is Jupiter a failed star?

In my physics lessons, my teachers have always been keen to tell my class that Jupiter is considered a 'failed star' by scientists. Is this true? In my own effort I wondered if maybe this could just ...
11
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3answers
396 views

Why did the ancients fail to discover that the Earth orbits the Sun?

The ancients observed that the Sun and the 'fixed' stars rotated about the Earth. They were also aware that the Earth was spherical. They performed many astronomical measurements on the planets - ...
18
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8answers
11k views

What is the average distance between objects in our asteroid belt?

We've all seen sci-fi movies with asteroid belts that require "great skill" to fly through, but how dense is the asteroid belt really? How much of the belt could you see from the surface of a given ...
12
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7answers
9k views

What is the simplest way to prove that Earth orbits the Sun?

Assume you're talking to someone ignorant of the basic facts of astronomy. How would you prove to them that Earth orbits the Sun? Similarly, how would you prove to them that the Moon orbits Earth? ...
14
votes
2answers
916 views

What if our Sun were located in the middle of a globular cluster?

Say you took our current solar system and relocated it deep in the heart of a globular cluster such as Omega Centauri. What would the night sky look like? Would the starshine of nearby stars be enough ...
20
votes
4answers
12k views

What did general relativity clarify about Mercury?

I frequently hear that Kepler, using his equations of orbital motion, could predict the orbits of all the planets to a high degree of accuracy -- except Mercury. I've heard that mercury's motion ...
12
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1answer
7k views

How does a comet form?

As the title explains, How does a comet form? What are the elements, what is a comet composed of? Why didn't they become part of planets, moons or asteroids?
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14answers
9k views

Why do we say that the earth moves around the sun?

In history we are taught that the Catholic Church was wrong, because the Sun does not move around the Earth, instead the Earth moves around the Sun. But then in physics we learn that movement is ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Observing Jupiter's non-Galilean moons

What strength of telescope is required to observe some of the non-Galilean moons of Jupiter? My current telescope at 50 magnification resolves the Galilean moons well, but I'm guessing it's far ...
2
votes
2answers
241 views

Ways of verifying the origin of a meteorite?

Assume you have a small sliver of a lunar or martian meteorite (or an object asserted to be so). Without using any special scientific equipment, is it possible to verify (or give a high probability) ...
7
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6answers
2k views

Can any telescope be used for solar observing?

Can any telescope, such as a 8" reflector, that is normally used at night to look at planets be used or adapted for solar observing? What kind of adapters or filters are required or is it better to ...
15
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3answers
1k views

Why is Uranus's axis of rotation tilted?

The poles of Uranus are 'in the wrong place', why is this? historically, do we have any evidence of its past? also, do we have an understanding of how its rotational axis might be evolving?
2
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2answers
260 views

Solar System Capture of Orphan Planets

NASA recently announced (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/planet20110518.html) that orphan planets, planets no longer orbiting a star, may be more numerous than the stars in our galaxy. ...
7
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5answers
556 views

Why aren't all rocks in space orbiting bigger rocks?

Why do only big rocks (planets) have satellites, and not small ones? Why doesn't cosmic dust orbit rocks that are many times heavier than the dust grains? If dust is still too heavy then what about ...
0
votes
1answer
174 views

What is 656 Beagle?

What kind of object is 656 Beagle (1908BU)? I know it's a minor planet, but that includes a large array of different stuff. Specifically, I am looking at the general chemistry/geology of the object.
7
votes
4answers
469 views

Question on the stability of the solar system

One of the pertinent questions about many body systems that causes me much wonder is why the solar system is so stable for billions of years. I came across the idea of "resonance" and albeit an useful ...
7
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3answers
565 views

Are there planetary systems where the planes of orbits vary greatly?

Inspired by this question, are there any known planetary systems with largely varying planes of orbit? For example a system where two planets have perpendicular planes?
12
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4answers
900 views

Why do all the planets of the solar system orbit in roughly the same 2D plane?

Most images you see of the solar system are 2D and all planets orbit in the same plane. In a 3D view, are really all planets orbiting in similar planes? Is there a reason for this? I'd expect that ...
4
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1answer
652 views
3
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1answer
454 views

Does the long axis of Earth's orbit precess? Does it nutate?

Get up off the plane of the ecliptic by a couple of million miles. Look back at the Sun and watch the Earth's orbit in time-lapse for a few centuries. The orbit is an ellipse tilted at 23.5 degrees ...
15
votes
3answers
5k views

Why are Saturn's rings so thin?

Take a look at this picture (from APOD http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110308.html): I presume that rocks within rings smash each other. Below the picture there is a note which says that Saturn's rings ...
3
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4answers
3k views

Historically, how do we know that Earth moves around Sun? And it does so in an elliptical orbit?

I know the basics of solar system like how Earth moves around Sun, and that we have so many planets, elliptical orbit of earth, and how far is sun from earth etc etc. I want to take a step back and ...
13
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3answers
373 views

Why were space physicists wrong about the location of the heliopause?

The heliopause is now estimated to be something around 100 AU (1 AU = Astronomical unit = about the earth sun distance). See the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliosphere From ...