Hot answers tagged

72

Sometimes we do, and the phenomenon is called a light echo. What you're looking at there is NOT moving gas. It's an "echo" exactly as you describe. The problem is that you need a pulse of light. If you have a constant stream of light, the "light echos" will be exactly like what you see in fog on earth.


67

The problem with finding a new planet in our solar system is not that it is too faint, but knowing where to look in a big, big sky. This putative planet 9 is likely to be in the range 20-28th magnitude. This is faint (especially at the faint end), but certainly not out of reach of today's big telescopes. I understand that various parts of the sky are ...


55

I've made this into an answer because it's too long for a comment, and I really want to show the pictures. It is tempting to think of visible light as "close enough" to (near by wavelengths) and to conclude that "yes, actually, the yellow does affect it. I want a mirror without an obvious tint" However you are wrong, Physics will slap you down. Exhibit A ...


47

If you look at the reflectivity of gold (vs silver or aluminum) you can see a plateau at wavelengths below 500 nm source: If blue wavelengths are not reflected as well as other colors, the resulting image will look "more yellow" - which is what you see. At longer wavelengths, gold is a very good reflector (better than the other two above 600 nm). It also ...


41

The sun is still surprisingly bright at Pluto. While it is approximately 1500 times less bright than at Earth, this is still approximately 250 times brighter than a full moon. If you consider the effect the difference between a full and new moon has on star viewing I expect that the reflected sun at Pluto is still bright enough to make it difficult to see ...


34

You can look up the camera settings behind these images. Here is the link to one of the raw images. The exposure time of the camera was 100ms. New Horizon's LORRI camera is a Ritchey-Chrétien telescope with a 20.8 cm diameter primary mirror and a focal length of 263 cm. That gives us approx. f12.6, which is a rather long i.e. fairly slow optical system (but ...


28

I generally regard NASA as authoritative, and they report the orbital parameters on their Earth Fact Sheet. I note that they disagree with Wikipedia about the aphelion though they agree on the perhelion, semi-major axis and eccentricity: NASA Wikipedia Aphelion 152.10 151.93 Perhelion 147.09 147.095 Semi-major 149.60 ...


27

Sort of. As Space.com writes, The raw Hubble images, as beamed down from the telescope itself, are black and white. But each image is captured using three different filters: red, green and blue. The Hubble imaging team combines those three images into one, in a Technicolor process pioneered in the 1930s. (The same process occurs in digital SLRs, except ...


25

It depends what you mean by day and night. The day and night are not of equal lengths now, where I live at latitude 53N. The tilt of the Earth's rotation axis with respect to the ecliptic plane means that this is generally true. The situation you describe would have to be considerably more extreme. If the planet was in a highly eccentric orbit and had a ...


24

I know that the opposite could happen. There is an old book called "Night Fall" about a planet that had three stars. Because there was always a star shinning on all sides it would never get dark. About every 500 years everything lines up just right so that all the stars were on one side. Then as the planet rotated on its normal spin, night fall would come ...


24

It would be possible to see the progress of photons through space if the light pulse were exceedingly intense, and if the dust cloud from which they reflect were positioned and shaped to reflect the light toward us. Rather than shooting a beam from Point A to Point B, it would be better if the light source were between us and the dust cloud, as light ...


23

The reason why we can see exoplanets 13,000 light years away but not a planet 200 AU away (about 30 light-hours) is because these planets are found using different techniques. The planet discussed in the article I linked was discovered using a technique known as "microlensing," which requires a star to pass behind another star with a planet around it. The ...


19

Are there any exact data about Earth's orbit? No. There are always measurement errors. There are however very good estimates. The best estimates come from three competing organizations, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (the Development Ephemeris models), the Russian Institute for Applied Astronomy (the Ephemerides of the Planets and Moon), and the IMCCE ...


18

You're right that the Sun being 4.5 billion years old makes observations difficult. The Sun goes around the Galaxy about once every 225 million years, so since the Sun formed it has gone around the Galaxy perhaps 20 times. The trouble is that the Galaxy is not like the Solar System: stars don't go around on nice nearly circular orbits, everything is a bit ...


15

Some numbers come from a review paper by Cullers (2000), who discusses the SETI Phoenix project. There, it is claimed that the Arecibo dish is capable of detecting a narrow band, coherent signal of $f=10^{-27}$ W/m$^2$ given a 1000 second observation. Assuming that this is an isotropic signal, then the implied power at distance $d$ is $p=4\pi d^2 f$, which ...


14

Martin Hoecker-Martinez's Answer is correct for perfectly noiseless observations of a two body Kepler system, i.e. the force between the bodies is directed along the vector linking them and the force magnitude follows and inverse square law with distance. An alternative to Martin's answer is that perfectly known position and velocity will determine all ...


12

If some of the light is reflected off the dust at such an angle that it is diverted to reach the observer, the observer will see that light. However, those specific photons reaching the observer will not reach B (unless they are reflected there by the observer). Similarly, unless the observer is at point B (which is not the case in the question as asked), ...


11

The classic color mapping for Hubble is described in Flase-color astrophotography explained. What you have is (in the Hubble palette): Line Freq True False Ha (656.3 nm) Red -- Green S-II (672.4 nm) Red -- Red O-III (500.7 nm) Green -- Blue An example of this for true color from John Nassr at Stardust Observatory at Coming to Life ...


10

Using a camera that can capture "Motion at a Trillion Frames Per Second", this can be done at the laboratory scale. The technique used has been called femto-photography. (Image credit to Ramesh Raskar, Associate Professor, MIT Media Lab) Of course a camera that literally takes one trillion full frames per second is totally impossible with today's ...


10

An ideal Kepplerian orbit is defined by six (6) parameters: angular momentum (3) total energy (1) Laplace–Runge–Lenz vector which is perpendicular to angular momentum (2) Therefore you need at least six (6) independent observations. Astronomical observations are direction (but not range usually) given by a pair (2) of angles therefore three (3) ...


9

Just to add up on the previous answers, you can indeed see a few stars in the images but they are faint By adjusting the levels of the raw image, I obtain the following image where you can spot a few


9

Tyco Brahe Observed Mars. And as the Mars is out side us, and rotates slower, it has an particular character that it even moves to "wrong direction" in the sky for a while. It must have been partially luck, that 5 of these observations is measures with enough accuracy this important point in orbit. (see link) Or maybe this was exactly the interesting ...


8

Let's say you build a ping pong ball counter. It increments the count every time a ping pong ball hits the sensor. You throw a ball, and it hits the sensor: Detected! You throw a ball across the sensor from left to right... no detection, because you didn't hit the sensor. Your eyeball is a light sensor, which creates pictures from the light that hits ...


8

To ask what do physicists expect to accomplish with gravitational lensing is nowadays somewhat like asking what do biologists expect to accomplish with looking at things with microscopes. Gravitational lensing is a well established method used across astronomy and the main challenges the field itself has to tackle are mainly technicalities. But I will try ...


8

SN 1987A is (was?) in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is gravitationally bound to the Milky Way. This means that its motion relative to us is only minimally affected by cosmological expansion, and talking about it in terms of a $z$ parameter is misleading at best. The best estimates of the distance to SN 1987A are about 168,000 light-years. If you ...


7

If planet is going around some star, at least somewhere at the surface of this planet is going to be a day, or else some other celestial body is covering the star light. If the speed of rotation of the planet is arranged in such a way that while it's traveling around the star one side of planet is always facing the star, and other side is always facing the ...


6

One scenario where a planet could have a much longer night than day would be the case if it were in a large elliptical orbit with a large companion, and were additionally tidally-locked to that companion. If the planet in question were to advance its periapsis in lockstep with its year, then the planet could have a long period of being distant from its ...


6

I find myself now answering my own question but only because the comment feature is not suited to this "comment". I have selected the answer by @HDE 226868 as my answer and primarily due to the linked Space.com reference. Very good answer to my question. In particular, I also thought this quote from the same page as being important as these reasons (below ...


6

Good answer from Kyle. I will just add that there is a great deal of effort going into trying to discover "solar twins". These are stars with such similar parameters (including age inferred from the HR diagram or asteroseismology, which can be good to about 10% in the best cases) and photospheric compositions to the Sun, that it is thought likely they must ...


6

The little $h$ is a historical artifact, one that will probably die out soon enough. The thing is, $H_0$ was extremely difficult to measure precisely for many decades after its importance was realized. At some point, cosmologists were divided between the "$H_0 = 50\ \mathrm{km/s/Mpc}$" and the "$H_0 = 100\ \mathrm{km/s/Mpc}$" camps. Because the quantity ...



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