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70

The bottleneck in Solar fusion is getting two hydrogen nuclei, i.e. two protons, to fuse together. Protons collide all the time in the Sun's core, but there is no bound state of two protons because there aren't any neutrons to hold them together. Protons can only fuse if one of them undergoes beta plus decay to become a neutron at the moment of the ...


67

This is an answer that I made, as suggested by John Rennie, by cutting and pasting his answer and dmckee's and adding a little more material. There are four factors involved: Velocity distribution of the nuclei Small geometrical cross-section for head-on collisions of nuclei Quantum-mechanical tunneling probability For the p-p reaction, a weak-force ...


54

The answer is simple: Yes, stars really do produce that many photons. This calculation is a solid (though very rough) approximation that a star the size of the sun might emit about $10^{45}$ visible photons per second (1 followed by 45 zeros, a billion billion billion billion billion photons). You can do the calculation: If you're 10 light-years away from ...


40

One thing to keep in mind is that objects that are bound gravitationally actually revolve around each other around a point called a barycenter. The fact that the earth looks like its revolving around the sun is because the sun is much more massive and its radius is large enough that it encompasses the barycenter. This is a similar situation with the Earth ...


36

Actually, it doesn't have the same mass, it has significantly less mass than its precursor star. Something like 90% of the star is blown off in the supernova event (Type II) that causes the black holes. The Schwarzschild radius is the radius at which, if an object's mass where compressed to a sphere of that size, the escape velocity at the surface would be ...


33

Anything the mass of a star is going to get hot like a star and fuse hydrogen like a star. In other words it will be a star not a planet! While it's technically possible to have a rocky planet the mass of a star, in practice when stellar systems form there aren't enough metals available to build such a large object. Large objects are invariably built from ...


33

The answer kind of depends on how old you are. At a very introductory level, say, maybe middle school or younger, it's "okay" to refer to Jupiter as a failed star to get the idea across that a gas giant planet is sort of similar to a star in composition. But around middle school and above (where "middle school" refers to around 6-8 grade, or age ~12-14), I ...


30

The conditions at the core of the Sun are very different from those in a thermonuclear bomb. The first thermonuclear bomb used deuterium as the secondary. The Sun has to create deuterium before getting to this stage. It's the creation of deuterium that's the bottleneck in the fusion that occurs inside the Sun. Later bombs used lithium deuteride, which is ...


30

When you watch a pop-sci TV show, you need to take everything you see with a very healthy grain of salt. This is particularly the case if the show's host isn't a scientist, but even when a scientist is the host, you need to be suspicious. Stellar black holes do not turn into monsters that reach out and pluck objects from the heavens. From far away, a black ...


29

If a dense, spherical star were made of uniformly charged matter, there'd be an attractive gravitational force and a repulsive electrical force. These would balance for a very small net charge: $$ dF = \frac1{r^2}\left( - GM_\text{inside} dm + \frac1{4\pi\epsilon_0}Q_\text{inside} dq \right) $$ which balances if $$ \frac{dq}{dm} = ...


29

Although I agree with all three of the above answers let me present a slightly different perspective on the problem. It's tempting to think of the light from the star as a flood of photons that behave like little bullets. However this is oversimplified because a photon is a localised object i.e. we observe a photon when something interacts with the light ...


27

Not quite like in the photo above, which shows more than what the naked eye can see, but yes, absolutely! Our galaxy (well, the chunk of it visible from these parts) is a naked-eye object. The fact that your question even exists shows how much time is now spent by people under light-polluted skies. It will not be visible from the city, however. You need to ...


26

For visible stars, the answer is no. In Newtonian physics, a star that would pull something travelling at light speed back to itself, i.e. a star for which the escape velocity were $c$, was called a dark star and seems to have been first postulated by the Rev. John Mitchell in a paper to the Royal Society in London in 1783. The great Simon Pierre de Laplace ...


25

The premise that the sun has the same conditions all throughout is incorrect. For the most part the conditions (Temperature and Pressure) necessary for nuclear fusion to occur are only found within a small region in the core. For example, when hydrogen fusion occurs and creates helium, since that helium is heavier it tend to coalesce as the core. In ...


22

Yes indeed to all your questions: mutually orbitting binaries do spin down, the system's orbital angular momentum thus decreases with time and the loss of energy and angular momentum is almost certainly owing to the emission of gravitational waves. Look up the Hulse-Taylor binary system: its spin-down has been carefully observed and measured since its ...


21

The estimates I've read are similar to yours: 200 to 400 billion stars. Counting the stars in the galaxy is inherently difficult because, well, we can't see all of them. We don't really count the stars, though. That would take ages: instead we measure the orbit of the stars we can see. By doing this, we find the angular velocity of the stars and can ...


20

According to Opacity of an Ionized Gas, "light from regions [of the sun] where the pressure is greater than 0.01 atm. is cut off completely, so that all we see comes from a spherical shell of rarefied gas". There is no real surface of the Sun. Instead, the density and pressure of gas/plasma progressively increase from an infinitesimal value far from the ...


17

This is not possible. The lowest possible mass for a main sequence star (sustaining H-1 fusion; it's the regular kind of star) is around 80 Jupiter masses. Just below this, objects are referred to as Brown Dwarfs, which are technically not stars. Whereas the highest possible mass for a terrestrial planet is about 5-10 Earth masses (as per here). Above this ...


17

Well, motion is relative so you can choose a frame of reference where one is stationary. If you do though, it makes the equations of motion quite complicated. Even in our solar system, the Sun isn't stationary. It orbits the center of mass of the whole solar system (barycenter), just as each planet orbits the center of mass. The center of mass of our ...


17

It's because the value of the gravitational field at the center of a star is not the relevant quantity to describe gravitational collapse. The following argument is Newtonian. Let's assume for simplicity that the star is a sphere with uniform density $\rho$. Consider a small portion of the mass $ m$ of the star that's not at its center but rather at a ...


16

In astronomy parlance, the Sun has a "metal"$^{1}$ mass fraction of about $0.02$. A solar mass is $\sim2\times10^{30}\;\rm{kg}$, so the sun contains about $4\times10^{28}\;{\rm kg}$ of "metals". That's about $20$ times the mass of Jupiter. A lot of that metal mass will be ${\rm C}$ and ${\rm O}$ and other elements a chemist would call non-metals, but I think ...


15

I work with stellar models, so I thought I'd chip in here. My instant reaction is that you shouldn't worry too much: determining the age of a star is difficult and different models will disagree (sometimes significantly!) on that age. How reliable is this research? I can't see an obvious reason to doubt the conclusion. What method do they use to ...


15

When astronomers started to get spectra of stars and began classifying them, the initial classification was based on the strength of the Balmer absorption lines in the spectra. The Balmer lines are created by electons in hydrogen atoms that are currently in the second energy level (N=2) absorbing energy and jumping up to higher levels. The stars with the ...


14

Well, you're right that a particle sitting at the centre of a star (or generally the centre of any spherical distribution of matter) feels no net gravitational force. So, in the absence of other forces, it will simply continue to sit at the centre. But every other particle in the spherical distribution will feel a gravitational force pulling it toward the ...


13

I'm going to respond to (v1) of the question, which asks why the night sky is dark (black and unlit) compared to the day sky even though there are many light sources at night. The updated question references Olber's paradox, which has been answered many times before. Like most things we see in everyday life, there are a number of reasons contributing to ...


13

The analogy is facile. Helium fuses at a temperature ($10^8\ \text{K}$) roughly ten times higher than hydrogen ($10^7\ \text{K}$), so a better analogy would be alcohol and thermite. That higher temperature is achieved only by massive gravitational contraction after hydrogen fusion [EDIT: in the core] is exhausted. EDIT: To expand, different mass stars ...


12

I think there are really three questions that need to be answered for this to make sense: is there a "normal" limit to how large a star can be? how can population III stars form with such large masses? how can population III stars retain their large masses? An answer to the first question is tricky. We expect large stars to be rare, and the largest ...


12

Almost all exoplanets observed are near F, G, and K stars. In part, this is because astronomers are looking for earth-like planets, so they look at stars similar to our Sun, but there are also some physical reasons. Sahu et al (2006) have provided some evidence that red dwarfs (class M) are more likely to have planets than other spectral types, though it is ...


12

1.I understand that star is in Plasma state (all nucleus and electrons are not bound to each other and moving around freely) While hydrogen only has one electron, all other neutral atoms have more than one electron. When one electron is removed, this is referred to as the "first ionization". Removing one of several electrons from an atom still makes ...



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