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Astronomy 2e

Review Questions

Astronomy 2eReview Questions

Review Questions


How do we know the age of the Sun?


Explain how we know that the Sun’s energy is not supplied either by chemical burning, as in fires here on Earth, or by gravitational contraction (shrinking).


What is the ultimate source of energy that makes the Sun shine?


What are the formulas for the three steps in the proton-proton chain?


How is a neutrino different from a neutron? List all the ways you can think of.


Describe in your own words what is meant by the statement that the Sun is in hydrostatic equilibrium.


Two astronomy students travel to South Dakota. One stands on Earth’s surface and enjoys some sunshine. At the same time, the other descends into a gold mine where neutrinos are detected, arriving in time to detect the creation of a new radioactive argon nucleus. Although the photon at the surface and the neutrinos in the mine arrive at the same time, they have had very different histories. Describe the differences.


What do measurements of the number of neutrinos emitted by the Sun tell us about conditions deep in the solar interior?


Do neutrinos have mass? Describe how the answer to this question has changed over time and why.


Neutrinos produced in the core of the Sun carry energy to its exterior. Is the mechanism for this energy transport conduction, convection, or radiation?


What conditions are required before proton-proton chain fusion can start in the Sun?


Describe the two main ways that energy travels through the Sun.

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