Questions tagged [galaxies]

Galaxies are gravitationally bound systems of stars, interstellar gas and dark matter, often hosting a central supermassive black hole. For questions about the structure, composition, dynamics, classification, etc. of galaxies. This includes small systems of interacting galaxies (i.e. merger, or galaxy + satellite system), but for galaxy groups and clusters use [galaxy-clusters], and for questions specific to our own Milky Way galaxy use [milky-way].

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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 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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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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Does a star need to be inside a galaxy?

Must a star belong to a galaxy, or could it be completely isolated? In case it can be isolated (not belong to a galaxy), could it have a planet orbiting around it?
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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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How would we tell antimatter galaxies apart?

Given that antimatter galaxies are theoretically possible, how would they be distinguishable from regular matter galaxies? That is, antimatter is equal in atomic weight and all properties, except for ...
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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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What are galactic speeds measured against?

The Earth moves through space at 67,000 MPH. The Milky Way travels through a local group at 2,237,000 MPH. Wouldn't you need a fixed point to be able to measure velocity against? After all, compared ...
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What causes our Sun to oscillate around its mean Galactic orbit?

According to this answer on Astronomy.SE, The Sun executes oscillations around its mean orbit in the Galaxy, periodically crossing the Galactic plane. I borrowed this illustration (not to scale!) ...
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How does one measure the mass of a galaxy? And other such large quantities?

Trained as a pure mathematician, I see claims about the mass of a galaxy and other such huge measurements that are arrived at experimentally, and I just have to scratch my head. I know this is a bit ...
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How do spiral arms form?

Why aren't all spinning galaxies shaped as discs as my young mind would expect? I understand how the innermost parts of a galaxy spin faster than the outer parts, and that could explain why some ...
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Why isn't the center of the galaxy “younger” than the outer parts?

I understand that time is relative for all but as I understand it, time flows at a slower rate for objects that are either moving faster or objects that are near larger masses than for those that are ...
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How many stars are in the Milky Way galaxy, and how can we determine this?

I have heard multiple estimates on the quantity of stars within our galaxy, anything from 100 to 400 billion of them. The estimates seem to be increasing for the time being. What are the main methods ...
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Which way do spiral galaxies rotate?

Is it known whether spiral galaxies typically (or exclusively?) rotate with the arms trailing or facing? Intuitively it feels weird to think of the arms as facing the direction of rotation, but that'...
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Can the “Milky Way” galaxy be seen by the naked eye in a clear sky?

Is this photo "real"? Are the stars not super-imposed in the image?
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Would a galaxy be visible from outside, but nearby?

We all know the typical sci-fi image of a guy standing on the ship deck and able to see a full galaxy. If you somehow were able to stand a few lightyears away from a galaxy would you be able to see it ...
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How can a spiral galaxy exist?

A spiral arm orbiting a central mass should be dispersed quite quickly as the outer elements would move more slowly than the inner ones. The Milky Way, is about 59 Galactic Years old, which, one would ...
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Why are some galaxies flat?

What is the explanation for the flatness of some galaxies? (If it's due to their rotation then why they are rotating, why some other galaxies are not flat etc., I would like to hear a nice and ...
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How would the night sky appear at the edge of the galaxy?

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series, there is a planet named Terminus which is believed to be the planet farthest from the galactic center. There are almost no visible stars in its sky, only the ...
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When galaxies collide, what happens to dark vs. light matter?

I have read that galactic collisions have been used as evidence demonstrating the effects of dark matter. In particular, that luminous matter slows down and interacts while dark matter shoots through, ...
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How did we 'discover' dark matter? [closed]

I'm an astrophysics student and I've been researching this topic and there is one point that keeps eluding me. How did the scientific community realize that there had to be dark matter in the ...
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Why don't the black holes appear black in color in images of galaxies taken from HST?

According to NASA a black hole is anything but empty space. Rather, it is a great amount of matter packed into a very small area According to the documentary Space Unraveling The Cosmos about ...
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How far apart are galaxies on average? If galaxies were the size of peas, how many would be in a cubic meter?

The actual number: How far apart are galaxies on average? An attempt to visualize such a thing: If galaxies were the size of peas, how many would be in a cubic meter?
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How could scientists know how far a star or galaxy is from us?

How do astronomers measure how far a star (or galaxy) is away from the earth? How would they know that it has taken 13 million years for light to travel in space before it reaches us?
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What is a reasonably accurate but simple model of the Milky Way's gravitational field?

I am putting together a toy program which shows how stars move around in the galaxy. To run the simulation I need to know strength of the Milky Way's gravitational field at any location in it. I'm ...
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Do quasars exist today?

Are there likely to be any quasars right now, or are all the ones we're seeing old galaxies today, like the Milky Way?
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Are the orientations of spin-axes and binary/planetary orbits random or is there any relationship with the Galactic plane?

In an answer to another question, a claim has been made that orbit/spin orientations are random (at least within our own Galaxy), except perhaps towards the Galactic centre. I have dabbled in this ...
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Why don't stars have Keplerian orbits?

In a comment to Rob Jeffries' answer to this question on spherical galaxies, Incnis Mrsi commented There should exist the entire range of orbits in a spherically symmetric system: near-circular, ...
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What is the name of our Galaxy?

I was told that the name 'Milky Way' first came about when people observered the milky looking stretch of sky; that is, before telescopes came about and we realised it wasn't a milky cloud, but rather ...
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If our galaxy's dark matter halo is so large and diffuse, why is the ordinary matter in it so much more localised and compactly located?

I just read that our galaxy's dark matter halo is estimated to be 1.5m ly across, compared to the visible galaxy's 100k ly across, needed to explain stellar rotation curves. Why would this be? By ...
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Are there models/simulations of antigravitational antimatter-galaxies?

In the comments to another question's answer, I started wondering: Assuming antimatter possessed negative gravitational mass§ (which is not proven impossible to date, though deemed unlikely), ...
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How Does Hubble's Expansion Affect Two Rope-Tied Galaxies?

Suppose we have two galaxies that are sufficiently far apart so that the distance between them increases due to Hubble's expansion. If I were to connect these two galaxies with a rope, would there be ...
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What happens when the black hole at a galactic core eats the galaxy? [duplicate]

I'm making several assumptions, not sure if any are correct: there is a black hole at the center of a galaxy the black hole is eating the galaxy Eventually the galaxy will be gone, right? Has this ...
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If matter and antimatter repel, how do we know other galaxies aren't made of antimatter? [duplicate]

Wikipedia's article on antimatter says this: There is considerable speculation as to why the observable universe is composed almost entirely of ordinary matter, as opposed to a more even mixture of ...
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Andromeda/Milky Way collision: How, and how accurately, can a galaxy's lateral velocity be measured?

Some sources suggest that the Andromeda Galaxy is likely to collide with our own in approximately 3 to 5 billion years. We can estimate the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy using various techniques, ...
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How to find the Andromeda galaxy without using a go-to telescope?

In other words, what is the proper technique (star-hopping or other?) in order to find and properly point a telescope to this target? Would a star atlas or other tool/reference help? Can I use the R.A....
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The final parsec “problem”

Many and perhaps all galaxies seem to contain supermassive black holes of about $10^7 M_\odot$ at their centres. Determining their origins is of great astrophysical interest. In what I understand to ...
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How will the super massive black hole affect our galaxy?

I've recently learned that the general consensus is that several (if not, most) galaxies have super massive black holes in their center, in particular the Milky Way. This, at least to me, makes ...
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What does a galaxy orbit?

Moons orbit planets, planets orbit stars, and stars orbit the center of a galaxy. So, my question is what does a galaxy orbit? The center of universe? (I know that the universe has no center)
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Why do galaxies and water going down a plug hole spin?

We all experience things spinning, whether it's water down a drain, the earth on its axis, planets round the sun, or stars in a galaxy - even electrons round an atom. But why is spin so common in ...
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$N$-body simulation in General Relativity

How would one perform an $N$-body simulation in General Relativity (GR) for something like galaxy formation or galactic dynamics? Suppose one wants to simulate the rotation curve $v(r)$ for galaxies ...
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Shapes of galaxies

I've heard most of galaxies are spiral or ellipsoid shaped. Is it true? If true, then why they form in such shapes? How did arms of the spiral galaxies form?
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What is the density of stars near the center of the Milky Way?

At night, I can look up and see the Milky Way across the sky. My question is, supposing our Solar System was, instead of way out on an 'arm' of the galaxy, near the galactic center, would the night ...
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How Are Galaxies Receding Faster Than Light Visible To Observers?

We know that some galaxies are moving away from us faster than the speed of light and we know it by measuring the redshift, but how's that possible? If they're moving away say at 2c, how would the ...
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Why doesn't my particle simulation end in a flat disc?

I've made a 3d particle simulator where particles are attracted to each other by the inverse of the square radius. The purpose of my experiment is to see if this alone would create a flat disk (like ...
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What is the frequency of occurrence of stellar classifications off the HR main-sequence?

An alternative version of this question would be: "if was to pick a star from the $10^{11}$ or so in our galaxy at random, what are the probabilities of it being various kinds of star?" (and I do mean ...
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Coupling between galaxy spin and central black hole spin

What is the relationship between the spin of a galaxy and the spin of its corresponding black hole? Associated questions: Do they always have the same axis of rotation? Do they always spin in the ...
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Are we capable of discovering planets in the Andromeda galaxy?

I just watched this SpaceRip video on YouTube which shows pictures taken by Hubble while looking into the disk of the Andromeda galaxy to study a certain type of variable star. It occurred to me that ...
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What's dark matter and who discovered it?

I have heard about dark matter that's called the Master Of The Universe. What's this and is the dark matter the reason galaxies exist?
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How does dark matter halo outside a galaxy help to explain galaxy rotation curve?

How does a dark matter halo outside a galaxy help to explain a galaxy rotation curve? Suppose for simplicity we use a model of a star rotating about a more massive star in a fixed circular orbit. For ...