Questions tagged [astrophysics]

The application of physical theory to celestial systems such as stars, planets, galaxies, supernovae, and black holes. Astrophysics proper is concerned with explaining phenomena more so than making observations, the latter falling under the purview of astronomy.

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How can a black hole produce sound?

I was reading this article from NASA -- it's NASA -- and literally found myself perplexed. The article describes the discovery that black holes emit a "note" that has physical ramifications on the ...
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7answers
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What is the speed of sound in space?

Given that space is not a perfect vacuum, what is the speed of sound therein? Google was not very helpful in this regard, as the only answer I found was $300\,{\rm km}\,{\rm s}^{-1}$, from Astronomy ...
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Why is the Sun almost perfectly spherical?

Relatively recent measurements indicate that the Sun is nearly the roundest object ever measured. If scaled to the size of a beach ball, it would be so round that the difference between the widest ...
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4answers
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Do solar systems typically spin in the same direction as their galaxy?

Is the net angular momentum vector of our solar system pointing in roughly the same direction as the Milky Way galaxy's net angular momentum vector? If yes or no, is that common for most stars in the ...
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Why did the gamma ray burst from GW170817 lag two seconds behind the gravitational wave?

The ABC, reporting on the announcement of gravitational wave GW170817, explained that for the first time we could identify the precise source of a gravitational wave because we also observed the event ...
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3answers
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Why the galaxies form 2D planes (or spiral-like) instead of 3D balls (or spherical-like)?

Question: As we know, (1) the macroscopic spatial dimension of our universe is 3 dimension, and (2) gravity attracts massive objects together and the gravitational force is isotropic without ...
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2answers
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Neutrinos vs. Photons: Who wins the race across the galaxy?

Inspired by the wording of this answer, a thought occurred to me. If a photon and a neutrino were to race along a significant stretch of our actual galaxy, which would win the race? Now, neutrinos ...
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10answers
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Can Jupiter be ignited?

Our solar system itself contains two candidate "Earths" One is Jupiter's moon Europa and another is Saturn's moon Titan. Both of them have the problem of having at low temperature as Sun's heat ...
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4answers
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Why does a supernova explode?

This is really bugging me. When you look up some educational text about stars life, this is what you find out: Gravity creates the temperature and pressure to start fusion reactions. The fusion ...
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3answers
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Why don't galaxies orbit each other?

Planets orbit around stars, satellites orbit around planets, even stars orbit each other. So the question is: Why don't galaxies orbit each other in general, as it's rarely observed? Is it considered ...
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8answers
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Why isn't dark matter just ordinary matter?

There's more gravitational force in our galaxy (and others) than can be explained by counting stars made of ordinary matter. So why not lots of dark planetary systems (i.e., without stars) made of ...
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5answers
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Why aren't there spherical galaxies? [duplicate]

According to the Wikipedia page on Galaxy Types, there are four main kinds of galaxies: Spirals - as the name implies, these look like huge spinning spirals with curved "arms" branching out ...
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9answers
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How would night sky look like if the speed of light was infinite?

Would it be brighter? Different color? Gravitational lensing? Would black holes exist?
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4answers
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What would happen if Jupiter collided with the Sun?

This question is inspired by a similar one asked on Quora. Let's say a wizard magicked Jupiter into the Sun, with or without high velocity. What happens? The Quora question has two completely opposed ...
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6answers
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Why are planets not crushed by gravity?

Stars can be crushed by gravity and create black holes or neutron stars. Why doesn't the same happen with any planet if it is in the same space time? Please explain it in simple way. Note: I am not a ...
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3answers
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Why wouldn't the part of the Earth facing the Sun a half year before be facing away from it now at noon?

The Earth takes 24 hours to spin around its own axis and 365 days to spin around the Sun. So in approximately half a year the Earth will have spun around its axis 182.5 times. Now take a look at the ...
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6answers
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What is the evidence for a supermassive black hole at the center of Milky Way?

Black holes cannot be seen because they do not emit visible light or any electromagnetic radiation. Then how do astronomers infer their existence? I think it's now almost established in the scientific ...
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3answers
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Why do the neutrinos (with mass) from a supernova arrive before the light (no mass)?

I've already read the below questions (and their answers) regarding neutrinos vs. electromagnetic waves propagating through space, but I'm still not clear on something. Neutrinos arrived before the ...
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4answers
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Why doesn't the solar wind disrupt the planets?

The sun creates this heliosphere by sending a constant flow of particles and a magnetic field out into space at over 670,000 miles per hour, which is also known as solar wind. If the speed of the wind ...
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7answers
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How fast a (relatively) small black hole will consume the Earth?

This question appeared quite a time ago and was inspired, of course, by all the fuss around "LHC will destroy the Earth". Consider a small black hole, that is somehow got inside the Earth. Under "...
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2answers
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Can a neutron star become a black hole via cooling?

How much does thermal expansion affect neutron stars? Would the loss of temperature cause a neutron star to be more densely packed and thus collapse into a black hole?
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4answers
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Are neutrino stars theoretically possible?

Since neutrinos have a small mass and are affected by gravity, wouldn't it be theoretically possible to have such a large quantity of them so close to each other, that they would form a kind of a ...
32
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4answers
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Why are stars white?

That is may be an easy question, but I am not a professional. The sun is a star, and when I look at the sun it is usually yellow. Why are stars in the night white? I suppose it is for the distance. ...
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3answers
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Sun's power density compared to a compost heap

According to Wikipedia the Sun's "power density" is "approximately 276.5 $W/m^3$, a value that more nearly approximates that of reptile metabolism or a compost pile than of a thermonuclear bomb." My ...
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3answers
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When a planet is heated through gravitational pull, where is the energy taken from?

Jupiters moon Io is heated through the gravitational pull of Jupiter, but when Io is heated because of this, where does that energy come from? How does conservation of energy work for this effect, ...
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3answers
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The Pioneer anomaly finally explained?

Pioneer 10 & 11 are robotic space probes launched by the NASA in the early 1970's. After leaving our solar system, an unusual deceleration of both spacecrafts has been measured to be approximately ...
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3answers
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Can the Sun capture dark matter gravitationally?

I think my title sums it up. Given that we think the dark matter is pseudo-spherically distributed and orbits in the Galactic potential with everything else, then I assume that its speed with respect ...
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1answer
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Does more light from Andromeda get scattered in the atmosphere than in the entire trip to Earth?

Fires have been burning here in Northern California. Today there was just a slight haze of smoke. The sun had a slight red hue to it. As expected the lower it got the redder it became. The blue light ...
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3answers
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Origin of elements heavier than Iron (Fe)

In all the discussions about how the heavy elements in the universe are forged in the guts of stars and especially during a stars death, I usually hear that once the star begins fusing lighter atoms ...
31
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2answers
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Experimental observation of matter/antimatter in the universe

Ordinary matter and antimatter have the same physical properties when it comes to, for example, spectroscopy. Hydrogen and antihydrogen atoms produce the same spectroscopy when excited, and adsorb the ...
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2answers
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Why would a black hole explode?

It is common in popular science culture to assume that Hawking radiation causes black holes to vaporize. And, in the end, the black hole would explode. I also remember it being mentioned in A Brief ...
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8answers
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Why is absolute zero considered to be asymptotical? Wouldn't regions such as massive gaps between galaxy clusters have temperatures of absolute zero?

Why is absolute zero considered to be asymptotical? Wouldn't regions such as massive gaps between galaxy clusters have temperatures of absolute zero? I just do not see why our model must work the way ...
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6answers
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How many times has the matter in our solar system been recycled from previous stars?

I've got a basic understanding of these facts: The Universe is a little over 13 billion years old. Our galaxy is almost that old. Our solar system is roughly 4.6 billion years old. The heavier ...
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Is there a limit as to how fast a black hole can grow?

Astronomers find ancient black hole 12 billion times the size of the Sun. According to the article above, we observe this supermassive black hole as it was 900 million years after the formation of ...
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1answer
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What is the theoretical lower mass limit for a gravitationally stable neutron star?

I ask here intentionally not for the size of the smallest possible observed size of neutron stars, which corresponds approximately to the well-known Chandrasekhar-limit for the upper limit of the ...
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3answers
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Do supernovae push neighboring stars outward?

I know that a supernova can mess up the heliosphere of nearby stars, but I'm wondering if it could physically push neighboring stars off their trajectories. It's fun to imagine all the stars ...
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3answers
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What nonlinear deformations will a fast rotating planet exhibit?

It is common knowledge among the educated that the Earth is not exactly spherical, and some of this comes from tidal forces and inhomogeneities but some of it comes from the rotation of the planet ...
29
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4answers
798 views

Metal-rich star formation

While discussing star formation on cosmological scales with some classmates, we mentioned the breakdown between the different stellar populations via metallicity: Population III: $Z = [{\rm Fe/H}] \...
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Why is the Sun called an “average star”?

This is a statement (presumably in mass, longevity, energy output) many people that I've met have heard in school, and it is known in pop culture. However, according to Wikipedia, about 75% of the ...
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Can elements heavier than iron be present in a star's core?

My understanding is that elements heavier than iron and nickel are not formed in a star but, can heavy elements such as lead and others be present/found in a star's core ? I ask because the following ...
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Can there be Electron and/or Proton Stars?

What happens to all of the electrons and protons in the material of a neutron star? Could there ever be an electron star or a proton star?
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5answers
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Why do we deal only with large scale magnetic fields in astrophysics, and not electric fields?

In astrophysics there is a lot going on about strong, large scale magnetic fields: in stars (prominences), magnetic dynamos, compact accretors collimating jets, etc. There's even a special ...
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3answers
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What is the smallest distance possible between two stars?

If two stars of any type were to form near each other, how closely can they form before something prevents them from being two distinct stars?
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2answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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What stabilizes neutrons against beta decay in a neutron star?

Free neutrons are known to undergo beta decay with a half-life of slightly above 10 minutes. Binding with other nucleons stabilizes the neutrons in an atomic nucleus, but only if the fraction of ...
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Do intergalactic magnetic fields imply an Open Universe?

According to a paper on the arXiv (now published in Phys Rev D), they do. How credible is this result? The abstract says: The detection of magnetic fields at high redshifts, and in empty ...
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2answers
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What would happen to a teaspoon of neutron star material if released on Earth?

I've read on NASA's page on neutron star that one teaspoonful of that star would weigh over 20 billion tonnes on Earth. If it was somehow possible to bring it to earth would it: Burn and disappear ...
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Why is there so much iron?

We all know where iron comes from. However, as I am reading up on supernovas, I started to wonder why there is as much iron as there is in the universe. Neither brown dwarfs nor white dwarfs deposit ...
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1answer
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Causes of hexagonal shape of Saturn's jet stream

NASA has just shown a more detailed picture of the hexagonal vortex/storm on Saturn: http://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-releases-images-saturns-hexagon-mega-storm-may-have-been-swirling-centuries-1496218 ...
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Where will the Goldilocks zone be when the Sun becomes a red giant?

In about 5 billion years, when our Sun expands into a red giant making our planet uninhabitable, where will the new Goldilocks zone be? Could life form on a new planet in the Goldilocks zone? ...