Astronomy True or False

Can you tell whether these astronomy-related statements are true or false?
Quiz by WolfCam
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Last updated: January 21, 2020
First submittedAugust 21, 2019
Times taken12,055
Rating4.33
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1. Neptune has rings
True
False
2. It takes more than a year for light to travel between the Earth and the Sun
True
False
It takes about 8 minutes
3. The sun is one of the smallest stars in the galaxy
True
False
At least 85% of stars in the Milky Way are smaller than the sun. Large stars tend to have short life spans.
4. Scientists believe that the universe is about 13.8 billion years old
True
False
5. The Earth's moon is the largest moon in the solar system
True
False
Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, and Io are larger
6. The same side of the moon always faces Earth
True
False
Only 59% of the moon can ever been seen from Earth
7. Saturn is the largest planet in the solar system
True
False
Jupiter is larger
8. Saturn is closer to the Sun than it is to Neptune
True
False
9. One astronomical unit is equal to the diameter of the solar system
True
False
One astronomical unit is the distance from Earth to the Sun
10. Pluto has no known moons
True
False
Pluto has five known moons, the largest of which is Charon
11. Humans have never detected a planet outside the solar system
True
False
4160 confirmed "exoplanets" have been discovered as of January 1, 2020
12. It is generally believed that a supermassive black hole lies at the center of the Milky Way
True
False
13. Of all the planets in the solar system, Mars is the closest in size to Earth
True
False
Venus is closest in size to Earth
14. Unmanned spacecraft have landed on Mars
True
False
15. Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way
True
False
16. The distance between the Milky Way and nearly every other galaxy is increasing
True
False
17. Mercury has the hottest surface temperature of any planet
True
False
The surface temperature of Venus is hotter
18. Two spaceships leave earth in opposite directions, each traveling 0.9 times the speed of light. These two spaceships would never be able to communicate with each other.
True
False
Even though, from Earth, these spaceships would appear to be moving away from each other at 1.8 times the speed of light, the relative speed between them would be less than the speed of light. Relativity is weird.
+3
Level 63
Jan 21, 2020
I'm sure most people who got #3 wrong misread it. I did and I'm surprised by the number of incorrect guesses. Maybe change the wording to "our galaxy"?
+9
Level 75
Jan 21, 2020
I was missing a point of reference and thought it meant in relation to the size of the biggest and smallest star, and not in relation to all stars. Compared to the size spectrum of all milky way stars the sun is at the smaller end of it, even though 85% of stars are smaller.
+6
Level 75
Jan 21, 2020
So you think the question is more likely to be comparing the Sun to the stars in a galaxy that it is not a member of? I think that's daft.

But, to be pedantic, the Sun is one of the smallest stars in the Milky Way - it is in the top ~85% of smallest stars in the Milky Way...
+4
Level 72
Jan 21, 2020
Roleybob was restrained in his response, IMHO! Carry, if you think specifying “in our galaxy” is required, then what was question you were actually trying to answer? “The Sun is one of the smallest stars in the Andromeda Galaxy”? That makes the kind of sense that… doesn’t. I think it’s much safer to assume that the folks who got this question wrong were just uncertain of the relative size of the Sun.

However, since I’m here and involved in hair-splitting :-), I’d like to suggest to WolfCam and Quizmaster that “Sun” be capitalized. It is a proper noun (so is Moon) and is the standard way of identifying our star. (Plus, that should hopefully mitigate any argument, such as it is, that Carry might have with the question.)

+1
Level 32
Feb 25, 2020
Sun and moon should not be capitalised any more so than star
+1
Level ∞
Jan 21, 2020
The question asks if the sun is one of the smallest stars in the galaxy. This is quite clearly false. Not only is it NOT one of the smallest, but the vast majority of stars are smaller. (At least 85% but likely much higher).
+3
Level 75
Jan 21, 2020
QM: I know you clicked reply on Carry's message but if you were partly replying to me then I was only being silly - of course the question is fine and the Sun wouldn't count as one of the smallest stars in the galaxy.

Constantly adding quizzes which you think couldn't possibly be contentious and then always getting pedantry and nitpicking in response must be exhausting, well done for your patience and the odd witty retort.
+1
Level 57
Jan 21, 2020
Wrong. The Sun-facing part of Mercury is very hot, but just that the average is lower than that of Venus.
+23
Level 72
Jan 21, 2020
Nope! The day (Sun-facing) side of Mercury gets up to ~425°C, whereas Venus is a blazing 462°C all over, all the time.

I only know this because I Googled it just now, which I feel is the least we can do before we adamantly declare a question wrong in the comments. I think we can confidently extend a little bit of faith that quiz creators actually research their facts carefully, and that Quizmaster proofs submitted quizzes for accuracy before featuring them.

(And by the way, I love this quiz, because I am a space weenie. Nice job!)

+1
Level 67
Feb 26, 2020
Yup! The greenhouse effect is a helluva thing.
+1
Level 88
Jan 21, 2020
Excellent quiz. The only nit I'd pick is that while the distance is increasing between the Milky Way and nearly every other galaxy, 'moving away' seems to indicate some repellent force--that they're moving in a radial direction from us.. Nearly all galaxies are moving away from a central point (likely where the big bang happened) as space expands, but it's more that our paths are diverging than that they're running directly away from us.
It's like saying the Milky Way is moving away from all other Galaxies, in every direction, simultaneously.
+3
Level 88
Jan 21, 2020
(Also, because the Saturn-Neptune proximity question reminded me of it. Here. You're welcome.)
+2
Level 83
Jan 21, 2020
Take a balloon. Draw dots on it with a marker, maybe 1cm apart. Blow air into the dotted balloon. Measure distance between dots. Most, if not all, distances have grown bigger. That's somewhat how it's been explained to me, although the example is a plane and the real world has more dimensions.
+2
Level ∞
Jan 21, 2020
That's a valid point @platitude. The galaxies are not "moving" away from the Milky Way, rather the space between them is expanding. This is a very important distinction. For example, no two objects can "move" apart from each other faster than the speed of light. However, the space between them can expand faster than the speed of light. The distance between Milky Way and some faraway galaxies is expanding at nearly 3 times the speed of light, meaning we will never be able to communicate with them.
+2
Level 80
Jan 21, 2020
This is a very nice quiz, congratulations. A especially like the relativity question... I may be a specialist, I had to think a while, though I felt it was indeed false ;).
+3
Level 75
Jan 22, 2020
Arp - Maybe you can answer something I've been wondering about:

Say you have a perfectly rigid rod which you are holding at end A. If you twist your end (A) then the whole rod twists, right up to the other end (B). As the rod is perfectly rigid, end B moves at the same time as end A, thereby transferring information instantly from end A to end B, seemingly contravening the law that information cannot travel faster than the speed of light. How can this be?

My guess would be that there is no such thing as perfectly rigid and end B actually moves at a later time than end A? I guess it takes a non-zero amount of time for the EM force from each atom to affect the atoms around it?

Edit: think I just answered my own question - the EM force is carried by photons so by definition it moves at the speed of light right?
+4
Level 80
Jan 22, 2020
Even without going into quantum or relativistic considerations, a true "solid" doesn't exist. Everything can be deformed and has a flexibility, especially long objects. I don't know of any material hard enough to seem to move ideally if you take, say, a three meter rod made out of it. If you move one end, it will take time for the movement to propagate, you will see and feel the deformation and waves in the rod. Now, of course your explanation holds too, the cohesion forces in any material are indeed electromagnetic and any movement or deformation will not propagate faster than the speed of light.
+1
Level 75
Jan 23, 2020
Thank you
+1
Level 67
Feb 24, 2020
Thanks for the interesting question and the interesting explanation.
+1
Level 73
Feb 26, 2020
Realistically, there isn't such a thing as a perfectly rigid rod, though it is a fun thought experiment. In practice, if you're deforming a material as you describe, the deformation is generally limited to traveling at the speed of sound in the material - so well below the speed of light. Now, of course, engineers often will assume things like perfectly rigid rods because the component in question may be much stiffer than other parts, and the rigid assumption doesn't change the results significantly...
+1
Level 77
Jan 22, 2020
That last question is a lovely thing.
+1
Level 61
Jan 23, 2020
This whole debate has inspired me to make this. A Quiz that Proves that Quantum Physics Makes No Sense, which includes the above question
+1
Level 80
Feb 24, 2020
Quantum physics and Relativity are not the same thing.. actually many of the things we understand about Relativity and Newtonian Physics stop working at Quantum scales. I'm not a physicist but that's at least my understanding.
+1
Level 72
Jan 29, 2020
This was a great quiz. I'd love to see more like it. I especially enjoyed the last question.
+2
Level 60
Feb 24, 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed the quiz. However, I'm not too happy about Question 11. A planet, by definition, has to be in our solar system. Therefore, there are no planets outside the solar system. An exoplanet is not a planet. Personally, I think exoplanets should be included in the definition of a planet, but until they are, the answer to Question 11 is technically wrong.
+3
Level 61
Feb 24, 2020
To quote Merriam Webster: “Definition of planet 1a(1) : any of the large bodies that revolve around the sun in the solar system (2) : a similar body associated with another star”
+1
Level 60
Feb 24, 2020
I prefer the International Astronomical Union's definition: https://www.iau.org/static/resolutions/Resolution_GA26-5-6.pdf
+1
Level 67
Feb 26, 2020
CTRH1 - Yes, but that IAU definition is specifically only about bodies within our Solar System. It's saying that, of the bodies in our Solar System, these are defined as planets. Heck, the title is "Definition of a Planet in the Solar System." It says nothing whatsoever about any bodies outside of our Solar System one way or another.
+4
Level 70
Feb 24, 2020
CTRH1 wins the 'Golden Nitpick Award' for February 2020...... congratulations.
+1
Level 60
Feb 24, 2020
Yay! I've been recognised!
+1
Level 45
Feb 24, 2020
14/18. Last question is interesting
+1
Level 47
Feb 24, 2020
I cannot find a definition of "major galaxy." What makes Andromeda a "major galxay" that doesn't apply to Barnard's galaxy, for instance?
+1
Level 63
Feb 24, 2020
There is no definition. But Barnard's Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds are Dwarf Galaxies, which orbit a "Major Galaxy" like the Milky Way or the Androma Galaxy.
+1
Level 68
Feb 24, 2020
What an amazing quiz!
+1
Level 54
Feb 24, 2020
Got all but the last one
+1
Level 43
Feb 25, 2020
Relativity is weird. Period.
+1
Level 35
Feb 25, 2020
The moon rotates on its axis, yet we never see one side of it? Am I missing something?
+1
Level 61
Feb 26, 2020
Because of tidal forces, the moon rotates once per revolution around the Earth, meaning the same side will always face us.