Glossary -- D

This material is copyrighted! See my copyright notice for fair use practices.

Glossary links (select a letter for definitions of astronomy terms beginning with that letter):
A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

dark energy
an additional energy needed to make the universe's overall curvature flat. It may be the cosmological constant.
dark matter
material that does not emit any light (or not detected yet), but has a significant gravitational effect.
(dec): position on the celestial sphere that is the number of degrees an object is north or south of the celestial equator. It is a projection of latitude lines onto the sky. An object's declination is fixed with respect to the stars. Varies from --90° at the SCP to 0° at the celestial equator to +90° at the NCP. Vertical position of an object.
degenerate gas
super-compressed gas that behaves more like a solid and whose properties must be described by quantum mechanics. The pressure of degenerate gas does not depend on the temperature.
how much material an object has in the space it occupies: density = mass/volume.
an isotope of hydrogen with one proton and one neutron in the nucleus.
when the interior of a large object has undergone differentiation so that denser material lies closer to the object's core.
differential rotation
(galaxy): stars closer to a disk galaxy's center complete a greater fraction of their orbit in a given time than stars farther out from the center, so that adjacent parts of the galactic disk do not always stay close to each other.
the separation of materials in a fluid under the influence of gravity such that the denser material collects at the core while the less dense material rises to the surface.
direct image technique
(planet detection) method of finding exoplanets by taking a picture of them.
discrete spectrum
a spectrum that is not continuous---an emission line spectrum or an absorption line spectrum.
the splitting apart of a molecule into its constituent atoms, e.g., the splitting of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen when water vapor is struck by ultraviolet light.
doppler effect
an apparent change in the wavelength of energy produced by an object that is caused by the object's motion towards or away from the observer (along the line of sight). In astronomical spectra, the doppler effect is seen in the shifting of spectral lines.
doppler shift technique
(planet detection) method of finding exoplanets by looking for a periodic alternating redshift and blueshift of a star.
Drake Equation
an equation that estimates the number of communicating advanced civilizations inhabiting the Galaxy.
one component of the interstellar medium that is made of thin, highly flattened flakes or needles of graphite and silicates coated with water ice and other frozen gases. It is responsible for the reddening and extinction of starlight.
dust tail
(comet): one of the two tails of a comet made of dust grains that curves away from the Sun from the action of the photons in the sunlight pushing the dust grains away from Sun. It has a yellow-white color from reflected sunlight.

Glossary links (select a letter for definitions of astronomy terms beginning with that letter):
A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Go to Astronomy Notes beginning

last updated: June 10, 2010

Is this page a copy of Strobel's Astronomy Notes?

Author of original content: Nick Strobel