New PDF release: A Question and Answer Guide to Astronomy

By Pierre-Yves Bely

ISBN-10: 052118066X

ISBN-13: 9780521180665

Amazon has performed a disservice to these people that received this publication to work out the colourful illustrations within the iPad and iPhone. All colour has been stripped.
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Extra info for A Question and Answer Guide to Astronomy

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Such a transfer of matter onto a stellar surface is called accretion. The explosion occurs as the material from the red giant is deposited on the surface of the white dwarf. Compressed under the white dwarf’s gravity and heated to the point of triggering nuclear fusion, the accreted material releases a vast amount of energy as it explodes, blowing the gases away from the white dwarf at incredible speeds, up to thousands of km/s, and causing a sudden brightening of the binary pair by a factor of 50 000 to 100 000.

That list is far from complete. The Solar System hosts many other bodies. For example, over 1000 Kuiper Belt objects are now known (out of a probable population of over 100 000). Located between 30 and 50 astronomical units (AU – see Q. 43) from the Sun, they are rocky and icy bodies, like the asteroids, or loose accumulations of rock and ice, like giant comets (Q. 69). Still further out is the Oort Cloud, the source of our long-period comets. The Oort Cloud may extend out as far as 100 000 AU (about 2 LY), and possibly harbors billions of rocky/icy objects of kilometer size (Q.

But while the number of human births is approximately 130 million per year, the rate of star formation in the Galaxy is much lower by comparison: the equivalent of about four solar masses, or about seven new stars per year (with more small stars than medium or large ones being born) [15]. This rate is much lower than it used to be because the amount of hydrogen available for star formation decreases as our galaxy ages: since its birth, 10 billion years ago, our galaxy has converted about 90% of its primordial gas into new stars.

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A Question and Answer Guide to Astronomy by Pierre-Yves Bely

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