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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

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1.Who was the first to look at the Milky Way with a telescope?
Sir Isaac Newton
C) Johannes Kepler
Sir William Herschel
D) Galileo Galilei
Ans: D
Section: Introduction to Chapter 15
2.The Milky Way Galaxy
is one of many billions of galaxies in the universe.
is unique in the universe in showing definite spiral structure.
contains the whole universe; everything observable is within its volume.
is one of only a few spiral galaxies; most other galaxies in the universe are
amorphous collections of stars shaped like ellipsoids.
Ans: A
Section: 15-1
3.The famous nineteenth-century observational astronomer Lord Rosse built the largest
telescope of his time (and discovered the spiral nature of many so-called “nebulae”) in
which country?
A) England B) The United States C) Ireland D) Germany
Ans: C
Section: 15-1

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4.The first suggestion that there were collections of stars beyond our Milky Way in the
universe was made by
Edwin Hubble in 1923.
Immanuel Kant in 1755.
William Parsons, Earl of Rosse, in 1845.
Sir Isaac Newton in 1690.
Ans: B
Section: 15-1

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5.The idea that some of the “nebulae” that are observed in the sky might be “island
universes,” immense collections of stars far beyond the Milky Way, was first proposed by
Immanuel Kant in 1755.
C) Heber Curtis in 1920.
Albert Einstein in 1909.
D) Lord Rosse in 1845.
Ans: A
Section: 15-1

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6.Which concept concerning the diffuse objects observed by Herschel was proposed by
Kant in the 1700s and was strongly supported by observations made in 1845 by the Earl
of Rosse with his world-class telescope in Ireland?
Many of the diffuse objects in our sky are moving rapidly away from our Galaxy.
Many of the nebulae in the sky are separate entities beyond our Milky Way Galaxy.
The diffuse objects observed by Herschel and known as planetary nebulae were in
fact planets orbiting other stars in our Galaxy.
All of the diffuse nebulae seen in the sky are gas clouds in our Milky Way Galaxy.
Ans: B
Section: 15-1
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7.The famous Curtis-Shapley debate in 1920 concerned which fundamental astronomical
question in astronomy?
Whether all stars were like the Sun or fundamentally different
Whether the spiral “nebulae” were part of the Milky Way Galaxy or more distant,
separate entities
Whether the universe was expanding outward in all directions
Whether the Sun was at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy
Ans: B
Section: 15-1
8.The event that settled the Shapley-Curtis debate about “spiral nebulae” was
Edwin Hubble measuring the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy.
Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detecting the cosmic microwave background
radiation.
Albert Einstein showing that gravity can bend the path of light.
Edwin Hubble showing that the universe was expanding.
Ans: A
Section: 15-1
9.Variable stars such as Cepheid variables are used in what important measurement in
astronomy?
The measurement of the distances to stars
The measurement of the rotation speeds of galaxies
The measurement of the surface temperatures of stars
The keeping of accurate time
Ans: A
Section: 15-1
10.What important role do Cepheid variables stars have in astronomy?
Distance measurements to distant galaxies
The determination of stellar luminosities
The determination of speeds of stars in galactic arms from the Doppler shift of their
spectra
The keeping of accurate time
Ans: A
Section: 15-1
11.Cepheid variable stars are useful to astronomers as indicators of
stars with very high speed motion.
white dwarf star behavior.
the existence of black holes.
distance, particularly to nearby galaxies.
Ans: D
Section: 15-1

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12.Distances to a nearby galaxy can be determined most accurately by
using pulsating stars as beacons.
measuring the chemical compositions of the brightest stars.
measuring the shifts of spectral lines from our Galaxy.
measuring the total amount of energy received from the galaxy.
Ans: A
Section: 15-1
13.The intrinsic brightness (represented by luminosity) of a Cepheid variable star compared
to that of the Sun is
generally between 10 and 100 times larger.
about the same.
significantly less.
several hundred to several thousand times larger.
Ans: D
Section: 15-1 and Figure 15-4

14.The period-luminosity relationship for Cepheid variable stars, relating variability to
absolute overall brightness, thereby providing identifiable beacons throughout our local
space, was discovered by
A)
Harlow Shapley.
C) Edwin Hubble.
B)
Henrietta Leavitt.
D) Sir Isaac Newton.
Ans: B
Section: 15-1

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15.Cepheid variable stars are invaluable in astronomy because of the close relationship
between
the peak wavelength of their spectra and their surface temperatures.
their luminosity, or absolute magnitude, and their pulsation period.
the redshift of their spectrum and their distance from the Sun.
their apparent magnitude and their pulsation period.
Ans: B
Section: 15-1

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16.The observational fact about a Cepheid variable star that leads to a measurement of its
distance from us is that its period of variation is directly related to its
surface temperature.
position along the spiral arms of a galaxy.
apparent magnitude.
absolute magnitude.
Ans: D
Section: 15-1
17.The significant feature of a Cepheid variable is that there is a relationship between two
intrinsic parameters, one of which can be easily measured, while knowledge of the other
parameter is required. These parameters are

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period of brightness variation and spectral color.
variation of spectral color and distance to the star.
period of brightness variation and luminosity.
amplitude of brightness variation and luminosity.
Ans: C
Section: 15-1
18.In determining the distance to a galaxy by using observations of a Cepheid variable star,
which of the following is NOT needed?
The star's average brightness or apparent magnitude
The star's velocity via the Doppler effect
The type of spectrum of the Cepheid, i.e., whether it is metal-rich or metal-poor
The Cepheid's period of variability
Ans: B
Section: 15-1 and Toolbox 15-1

19.A Cepheid variable star with a pulsation period of a few days is seen in the spiral arm of a
galaxy. Its apparent brightness is measured as 104 times fainter than an equivalent star
1000 ly away from the Sun in our Galaxy. Assuming no light absorption between
galaxies, what is the distance to the far Cepheid and hence to the galaxy?
A)
107 ly (104 times farther away)
C) 10 ly (100 times closer)
B)
10,000 ly (10 times farther away)
D) 100,000 ly (100 times farther away)
Ans: D
Section: 11-3 and 15-1
20.A classical Cepheid variable star is seen to vary regularly with a period of 25 days. How
many times brighter than the Sun would this star appear to be if it were to replace the Sun
in our solar system? (See Figure 15-4 of Comins and Kaufmann, Discovering the
Universe, 7th Ed.)
A) 1000 B) 4 C) 10,000 D) 102
Ans: C
Section: 15-1 and Figure 15-4
21.A classical Cepheid variable star in a distant galaxy has an apparent magnitude of +20.3.
By measuring its period and using the period-luminosity relation, its absolute magnitude
is –6.0. Assuming that there is no interstellar absorption, what is the distance to the
galaxy in parsecs? (See Toolbox 15-1 of Comins and Kaufmann, Discovering the
Universe, 7th Ed.)
A) 3.6 × 104 pc B) 7.2 × 103 pc C) 1.1 × 105 pc D) 1.8 × 106 pc
Ans: D
Section: 15-1 and Toolbox 15-1
22.How has the maximum intrinsic brightness (minimum absolute magnitude) of Type Ia
supernovae been measured?
A)
The distances to nearby Type Ia supernovae have been measured using
trigonometric parallax.

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They have been observed in distant galaxies in which Cepheid variables have also
been observed.
Their brightness has been measured at several different wavelengths, from which
their temperature and hence their intrinsic brightness can be calculated.
The brightness of several of them has been accurately measured relative to the
brightness of the original star before it exploded.
Ans: B
Section: 15-1
23.Determination of the distance to the Andromeda “nebula” (which finally resolved the
Curtis-Shapley debate on the nature of “spiral nebulae”) was carried out by Hubble by
observing
pulsars.
Cepheid variable stars.
the Doppler shift of stars in the nebula.
the main sequence of stars in the “nebula.”
Ans: B
Section: 15-1
24.How far away from us is the Andromeda Galaxy compared to the diameter of the Milky
Way Galaxy?
It is about three Milky Way diameters away.
It is about 20 Milky Way diameters away.
It is between 100 and 120 Milky Way diameters away.
It is several million Milky Way diameters away.
Ans: B
Section: 15-1
25.The observation by Hubble that demonstrated for the first time that the Andromeda
“nebula” was at a very large distance from the Sun, and outside our Galaxy, was
that Cepheid variable stars appeared to be very faint in the “nebula.”
that the “nebula” appeared to be rotating night by night around a center that was
not the center of our Galaxy.
that stars with characteristics similar to those of our Sun appeared to be absent in
this “nebula.”
that globular clusters appeared to be distributed in a halo around the “nebula,” a
sure sign of a separate galaxy.
Ans: A
Section: 15-1

26.What was the implication of the observation by Edwin Hubble that the Cepheid variable
stars he measured in the Andromeda “nebula” appeared to be very faint compared with
what was expected?
A)
The observed period was affected by the intense gravitational field of the “nebula”
as predicted by general relativity, leading to incorrect luminosity determination.
B)
The Andromeda “nebula” was very far away and was in fact a galaxy.

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He had discovered a new class of intrinsically faint Cepheid variable stars.
Dust and gas in the “nebula” had severely reduced the light from these stars.
Ans: B
Section: 15-1
27.The method used by Hubble to determine the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy (M31),
thereby establishing the concept of separate and individual galaxies throughout the
universe, was the
observation of Cepheid variable stars.
measurement of the redshift of the whole galaxy.
measurement of stellar parallax, or apparent motion, of stars because of the Earth's
orbital motion.
observation of the brightnesses of novas.
Ans: A
Section: 15-1
28.The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is best described as
an extension of the Milky Way.
a vortex surrounding a black hole.
a gaseous nebula, extending for 6° across our sky.
a spiral collection of stars, dust, and gas, 2 million ly away.
Ans: D
Section: 15-1
29.What is it that makes the study of the structure of our own Galaxy more difficult than that
of much more distant spiral galaxies?
The galactic center is visible only from the southern hemisphere, where, until
recently, no major telescopes were available for the study of galactic structure.
Our Galaxy appears to be unique, with a structure quite unlike any other galaxy.
Our star is within the Galaxy, and its motion confuses the interpretation of the
motion of other parts of the Galaxy.
Most of our galaxy is hidden behind dense gas and dust clouds in the galactic
plane.
Ans: D
Section: 15-1
30.In the 1780s, Sir William Herschel tried to measure the Sun's position in our Galaxy by
counting the density of stars in different directions along the Milky Way.
measuring distances to star clusters and H II regions in the disk of the Galaxy.
measuring the locations of globular clusters around the Galaxy.
comparing our Galaxy to photographs of the Andromeda Galaxy.
Ans: A
Section: 15-2
31.The factor that misled Herschel into concluding that the stars of the Milky Way were
distributed with the Sun at the center of the Galaxy was

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hot hydrogen gas in the Galaxy, its emission hiding the more distant stars.
interstellar dust that obscured the more distant stars and thereby localized his
observations.
gravitational bending of light by the mass of the Galaxy, distorting the relative
positions of the stars.
that most of the “stars” he measured were in fact distant galaxies that are
distributed uniformly around the Sun.
Ans: B
Section: 15-2
32.Why are we able to see only a relatively small part of our Galaxy, the Milky Way
Galaxy?
There are so many stars in our Galaxy that the more distant ones are hidden behind
the nearer ones.
Distant stars are obscured by gas in interstellar space.
Expansion of the universe has carried the more distant stars out of our view.
Distant stars are obscured by dust in interstellar space.
Ans: D
Section: 15-2
33.In the eighteenth century, Sir William Herschel used star counts in different regions of the
sky along the Milky Way to estimate the position of the center of the Milky Way. He
incorrectly concluded that the Sun was close to that center. The reason for this erroneous
conclusion was
that the redshift of the more distant stars made them invisible to Herschel.
that Herschel counted all “stars” in each star field and included many galaxies that
were outside our Galaxy, thus confusing the distribution.
the large quantity of absorbing dust between stars, which obscured the more distant
regions of the Galaxy.
that emissions from hot hydrogen gas clouds served to hide the more distant stars,
localizing his search.
Ans: C
Section: 15-2
34.Interstellar dust obscures our view of distant regions of space at optical wavelengths. In
this regard, which of the following statements is true?
The obscuration is very clumpy and random over the whole sky, the individual
absorbing dust clouds showing no preference for one particular direction or plane.
The obscuration is roughly uniform over the whole sky.
The obscuration is the least in the plane of the Galaxy and is strongest when we
look out into the galactic halo, at right angles in this plane.
The obscuration is severe only in the plane of the Galaxy.
Ans: D
Section: 15-2
35.Which component of our Galaxy accounts for interstellar extinction, the dimming of light

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from distant objects?
Cool hydrogen gas
The so-called hidden or missing matter since its absorbing properties render it
invisible in the Galaxy
Molecules such as H2 and CO, which are strong absorbers, in molecular clouds
Dust
Ans: D
Section: 15-2

36.The one component of the material of the Milky Way Galaxy that prevents us from seeing
and photographing the galactic center at optical wavelengths is
A)
very cold hydrogen gas.
C) the glare of light from nearby stars.
B)
interstellar dust.
D) hot hydrogen gas.
Ans: B
Section: 15-2

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37.What useful purpose did variable stars serve for Harlow Shapley in locating the galactic
center?
They are important spiral arm tracers and thus defined the shape of the Galaxy.
Their brightness variations allowed accurate distances to be measured.
They emit copious amounts of infrared radiation and are thus visible through
interstellar dust that obscures visible light.
They are concentrated in the galactic center and so defined its direction.
Ans: B
Section: 12-13 and 15-2
38.The method used by Harlow Shapley in 1917 to estimate the Sun's location in our Galaxy
was the measurement of
the locations of globular clusters around the Galaxy.
the density of stars in different directions along the Milky Way.
distances to open star clusters and H II regions in the disk of the Galaxy.
the structure of the Andromeda Galaxy and a comparison of this to the structure of
our Galaxy.
Ans: A
Section: 15-2
39.Harlow Shapley first located the center of our Galaxy in 1917 by
measuring the positions of supernova explosions throughout the Galaxy.
observing the distribution of globular clusters in the galactic halo.
redshift measurements on stars in the galactic plane and disk.
observing the distribution of hydrogen gas, measured by 21-cm radio emission.
Ans: B
Section: 15-2
40.When distances were carefully measured from the Earth to globular clusters above and
below the Milky Way plane (where our view of them is not obscured by interstellar dust

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and gas), their distribution was found to be
spherically symmetric about a point in the constellation Sagittarius and
concentrated in that direction.
in a relatively flat disk almost perpendicular to the plane of the Galaxy, with a
relatively higher density of clusters toward its center.
concentrated in the plane of the Milky Way and clustered around the Sun's position,
indicating that the Sun is close to the Galaxy's center.
uniformly distributed throughout space, with no concentration in any area of the
Milky Way.
Ans: A
Section: 15-2
41.Harlow Shapley's original estimate of the distance from the Sun to the galactic center was
incorrect because it did not take scattering by interstellar dust into account. This original
estimate was
too large because light scattering and absorption by dust made nearer stars look dim
—as though they were more distant.
too large because scattering by dust made stars look redder—as though they were
highly Doppler shifted and thus more distant.
too small because gas and dust tend to reflect light back into the path of the beam,
thus making stars look brighter and nearer.
too large because scattering by dust made stars look redder—as though they were
red giants of larger luminosity and thus farther away.
Ans: A
Section: 15-2
42.In which constellation in our sky is the center of our Milky Way Galaxy located?
A) Sagittarius B) Lyra C) Hercules D) Ursa Major
Ans: A
Section: 15-2

43.Radio waves of 21-cm wavelength originate from which component of the interstellar
medium?
A)
Cool, neutral atomic hydrogen
C) Cool, carbon monoxide, CO
B)
Cold, molecular hydrogen, H2
D) Hot, ionized atomic hydrogen
Ans: A
Section: 15-2

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44.The spiral-arm structure of the Milky Way Galaxy has been measured and evaluated most
effectively by observations of
globular clusters in the halo of the Galaxy.
Balmer emission lines of visible radiation from hydrogen.
21-cm radiation from interstellar hydrogen and the distribution of young stars.
Lyman UV radiation from hot hydrogen gas.
Ans: C
Section: 15-2

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45.Which type of radiation has been most effective in evaluating the spiral arm structure of
our Galaxy?
21-cm radio emission from electron “spin-flip” transitions in cool hydrogen gas
Lyman  ultraviolet emission from hot hydrogen gas
Synchrotron radiation from electrons spiraling in magnetic fields within the spiral
arms
Neutrinos from exploding stars in the spiral arms since they can penetrate dust and
gas easily
Ans: A
Section: 15-2
46.What happens when the electron in a hydrogen atom flips its direction of spin, from
parallel to antiparallel to that of the proton?
Nothing—this is a forbidden transition that never occurs.
The atom emits a photon of 656.3-nm wavelength (H) in the red region of the
spectrum.
The atom emits a photon of 21-cm wavelength in the radio region of the spectrum.
The atom emits a photon of 121.5-nm wavelength (L) in the UV region of the
spectrum.
Ans: C
Section: 15-2
47.What would you expect to be the overall color of a globular cluster of stars, and why?
Blue, because of the contribution from young and very hot stars in the cluster
Red, because of the emission of light by the hydrogen gas in H II regions
surrounding the stars in the cluster
Red, because of the older population of stars in the cluster
Blue, because of the scattering of starlight from the dust surrounding the stars in
the cluster
Ans: C
Section: 12-11 and 15-2
48.Where are many of the older, metal-poor stars found in the Milky Way Galaxy?
Throughout the whole Galaxy
C) In the disk and spiral arms
At the galactic center
D) In globular clusters in the galactic halo
Ans: D
Section: 12-11 and 15-2
49.What atomic transition occurs in the atoms of hydrogen gas in the spiral arms of our
Galaxy to produce the 21-cm radio emission?
The transition from the n = 2 to n = 1 levels in atomic hydrogen
The change in rotation of the molecule H2 about an axis perpendicular to the
molecular axis
The change in the vibrational state of the H atoms in the H2 molecule
The inversion of the electron spin relative to the proton spin, from parallel to

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antiparallel
Ans: D
Section: 15-3

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50.What quantum transition occurs inside a hydrogen atom to produce a 21-cm radio
photon?
An electron falls from the level n = 100 to the level n = 99 in the atom.
An electron in the ground atomic state reverses its direction of spin with respect to
that of the proton.
An electron reverses the direction of its motion in orbit around the proton.
The electron combines with the proton in the nucleus to become a neutron,
producing energy.
Ans: B
Section: 15-3
51.The major advantages of the 21-cm radio emission from hydrogen gas for investigating
the spiral structure of our Galaxy are
that it is relatively easily absorbed by hydrogen gas in the Milky Way, so that
measurements are not confused by emission of this radiation from other galaxies
beyond the Milky Way. It originates only from cold hydrogen gas and can be used
to map this important component.
that radio waves easily penetrate the Milky Way dust and gas, and it is a very
narrow-wavelength line emission, thus its Doppler shift can be used to measure gas
motions.
that Doppler shift of this narrow-wavelength line emission is caused by the
temperature of the hot hydrogen gas and therefore can be used to measure the
distribution and temperature of this important component of the Milky Way.
that this emission can easily penetrate the Milky Way gas and dust and comes only
from hot gas, hence its ability to be used to map the distribution of hot hydrogen
gas.
Ans: B
Section: 15-3
52.A neutral hydrogen atom consists of a proton and an electron. The energy of the atom is
the same regardless of the relative spin orientations of the two particles.
highest when the proton spin and the electron spin are perpendicular to each other.
highest when the two spin directions are parallel.
highest when the two spin directions are anti-parallel.
Ans: C
Section: 15-3

53.If we aim a radio telescope at a distant spiral arm of our Galaxy, we will probably
observe a 21-centimeter line. If we point a large optical telescope at this same region, we
will probably not be able to detect the neutral hydrogen that gives rise to the 21centimeter radio signal. Why not?
A)
Neutral hydrogen is incapable of emitting visible radiation.

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The H line—the primary emission of neutral hydrogen—has a much smaller
energy than the 21-centimeter radio wave and thus is harder to detect.
There is little energy in the depths of space to excite visible radiation from neutral
hydrogen.
The visible light emitted by neutral hydrogen is all absorbed by H II gas regions
before reaching the solar system.
Ans: C
Section: 15-3
54.We aim our radio telescope at a distant region of our Galaxy and detect 21-centimeter
radio waves with no Doppler shift. Each of the following is a possible explanation,
except one. Which is the exception?
The neutral hydrogen in this region is not moving relative to the Earth.
The neutral hydrogen in this region is moving perpendicularly across our line of
sight.
The neutral hydrogen in this region is in a circular orbit around the galactic center
at the same radius as the solar system.
The neutral hydrogen in this region is moving away from us instead of toward us.
Ans: D
Section: 15-3
55.When we measure the narrow line emissions of hydrogen at 21-cm radio wavelengths
along a particular line of sight through the disk of our Galaxy, we can tell the distances to
different hydrogen clouds because
absorption of extragalactic radiation at this wavelength will be greater the farther
away the absorber is from the Sun.
clouds that are farther away have smaller angular sizes.
the emission is weaker from clouds that are farther away.
clouds at different distances have different Doppler shifts because of the rotation of
the Galaxy.
Ans: D
Section: 15-3
56.The 21-centimeter line is one of the most important wavelengths in radio astronomy. The
fact that it is a relatively long wavelength is important because
long wavelengths are more likely to interact with clouds of gas and dust.
long wavelengths are more likely to pass through clouds of gas and dust.
long wavelengths carry more energy than short wavelengths of the same energy.
long wavelengths can be detected with greater resolution than can short
wavelengths.
Ans: B
Section: 15-3

57.Which of the following components of the Galaxy best outline the spiral arms of the
Galaxy?
A)
Young O and B stars, dust, and gas
C) Predominantly solar-type stars

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Globular clusters
Ans: A
Section: 15-3

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White dwarf stars

58.Where are bright, young O and B stars most likely to be found in our Galaxy?
Inside spiral arms
In globular clusters
In the outermost regions of the disk, where much of the “dark matter” is located
Between spiral arms, where there is less absorbing material
Ans: A
Section: 15-3
59.The stellar components of the Galaxy that act as tracers for the mapping of spiral arm
structure in the Milky Way are
bright, population I stars and emission nebulae surrounding them.
globular clusters.
supernova explosions since they are very luminous and can be seen through
considerable dust and gas.
old, red giant stars and white dwarfs.
Ans: A
Section: 15-3

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60.Which of the following is NOT useful for mapping the locations and shapes of the spiral
arms of our Galaxy?
The distribution of globular clusters
The distribution of O and B stars
The distribution of emission nebulae (H II regions)
The distributions of giant molecular clouds
Ans: A
Section: 15-3

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B)
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D)

61.What is the distribution of giant molecular clouds in our Galaxy and other similar
galaxies?
They occur primarily in the spiral arms.
They are distributed uniformly throughout the disk.
They are concentrated close to the galactic center.
They are distributed throughout the halo, with greater density toward the center.
Ans: A
Section: 15-3

62.When we look out into the plane of the Galaxy, how far can we see?
A)
Infinitely far
C) Less than 1000 ly
B)
About 100,000 ly
D) About 10,000 ly
Ans: D
Section: 15-3

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63.Recent observations seem to indicate that, rather than being a spiral galaxy, the Milky
Way may be
a barred spiral with a definite, straight bar across its center.
an irregular galaxy with chaotic distribution of matter within it.
an elliptical galaxy with little structure.
two elliptical galaxies colliding with each other, in view of the very active star
formation within the galactic plane, brought about by the vastly increased density
during the collision.
Ans: A
Section: 15-3
64.The dimensions of the disk of our Milky Way Galaxy are
diameter 100,000 ly; thickness 2000 ly.
diameter 10,000 ly; thickness 28,000 ly.
diameter 2000 ly; thickness 100,000 ly.
diameter 28,000 ly; thickness 2000 ly.
Ans: A
Section: 15-3
65.The ratio of thickness to diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy is
A) 1/500. B) 1/5. C) 1/50. D) 1/1000.
Ans: C
Section: 15-3
66.The diameter of our Galaxy is about
A) 100 kpc. B) 31 kpc. C) 3.1 kpc.
Ans: B
Section: 15-3

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D)

D) 2 kpc.

67.Interstellar matter obscures our view of the disk of our Galaxy
most at radio wavelengths, where hydrogen absorbs radio waves efficiently, and
least at optical wavelengths.
more at optical wavelengths and less or not at all at infrared and radio wavelengths.
very little at any wavelength.
more or less equally at all wavelengths, from radio waves to light waves.
Ans: B
Section: 15-3
68.How is cool, neutral hydrogen gas, H I, detected in the spiral arms of galaxies?
By the absorption of infrared radiation from extragalactic sources
By its Balmer line emissions
By its 21-cm line radio emissions
By its ultraviolet, Lyman , hydrogen line emissions
Ans: C
Section: 15-3

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

69.In our Galaxy, young metal-rich stars are found
everywhere in the Galaxy.
only at the galactic center.
in the disk and spiral arms.
in the globular clusters in the galactic halo.
Ans: C
Section: 12-11 and 15-3
70.Observation of the different components of the Milky Way Galaxy indicates that the
spiral arms contain very different populations of stars and other material to those in
globular clusters. In what way are they different?
Globular clusters contain dust and gas and are the only locations where star
formation continues in the Galaxy at the present time. The older stars in the spiral
arms have no surrounding dust or gas.
Spiral arms contain young stars, dust, and gas within which star formation
continues, whereas globular clusters contain older star populations, with no dust
and gas and no ongoing star formation.
Spiral arms contain older, more developed and hence brighter and bluer stars, while
globular clusters are composed largely of young, red stars in the early stages of
formation and development.
Both spiral arms and globular clusters contain about the same populations of stars
both young and old, but, in contrast to the spiral arms, there is no dust and gas and
no star formation, and there are no nova explosions in globular clusters.
Ans: B
Section: 12-11 and 15-3
71.The Milky Way is an example of which type of galaxy?
A) Spiral B) Irregular C) Lenticular, S0 type D) Elliptical
Ans: A
Section: 15-3

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

72.The Milky Way in which the Sun resides is an example of which type of galaxy?
A spiral galaxy (i.e., with a regular pattern of spiral arms)
An elliptical galaxy (i.e., with a smooth star distribution lacking spiral arms)
It is not a galaxy at all but a large cluster of stars.
An irregular galaxy (i.e., with possible clumps of stars but no overall pattern)
Ans: A
Section: 15-3
73.Where is the solar system located in our Galaxy?
In the galactic disk
It is not in a galaxy but in the intergalactic space between galaxies.
In the galactic halo
In the galactic nucleus
Ans: A
Section: 15-3

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

A)
B)
C)
D)

74.The Sun's position in the Galaxy is
unknown because our view is too severely restricted by interstellar dust.
in the disk of the Galaxy, inside a spiral arm or segment of a spiral arm.
in the disk of the Galaxy, between and well away from any spiral arm.
in the spherical halo, somewhat above and outside of the spiral arms.
Ans: B
Section: 15-3
75.Approximately how far is the Sun from the center of our Galaxy?
A) 2 kpc B) 8 kpc C) 49 kpc D) 160 kpc
Ans: B
Section: 15-3

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

76.A map of our Galaxy deduced from radio observations of the 21-cm line emission from
cool hydrogen gas and observations of spiral arm tracers such as giant molecular clouds
reveals
two spiral arms, one on each side of the Galaxy.
a smooth distribution of stars, characteristic of an elliptical galaxy.
at least four spiral arms.
one spiral arm that wraps around the Galaxy several times.
Ans: C
Section: 15-3
77.The Milky Way Galaxy appears to have a spiral structure with
four separate major arms.
three loosely wound arms.
one “arm” wound around the nucleus four times.
two major arms wound twice around the nucleus.
Ans: A
Section: 15-3
78.Where is the Sun located in our Galaxy? (That is, what is our address in the universe?)
(See Fig. 15-9 of Comins and Kaufmann, Discovering the Universe, 7th Ed.)
In the Centaurus arm, between the galactic center and the Orion arm
In the Sagittarius arm, between the Centaurus and Orion arms
In the Perseus arm, between the Orion and Cygnus arms
In or close to the Orion arm, between the Sagittarius and Perseus arms.
Ans: D
Section: 15-3 and Figure 15-9

79.If the Sun were to be at or close to the galactic center, the intensity of starlight in the
nighttime sky on the Earth would be
A)
very much fainter than at present because neighboring stars would be obscured by
dense dust and gas clouds.
B)
about the same as it is now since neighboring stars would still be relatively far

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

away.
about twice as bright as at present since neighboring stars would be mostly bright,
young blue stars in about the same numbers as the present, older, and less bright
red giant neighbors to the Sun.
extremely intense from the dense field of stars, equivalent to about 200 full Moons.
Ans: D
Section: 15-4
80.Which kind of stars are the major source of energy for the heating of the dust clouds and
the H II emission nebulae within the planes of the Milky Way and other galaxies?
Hot, young O and B stars, via their UV radiation
The numerous old, red giant K and M stars, via their IR heat radiation
Very hot white dwarf stars, the remnants of planetary nebulas in the gas clouds
The very many nova and supernova explosions of stars within the gas and dust
clouds
Ans: A
Section: 15-4
81.We have observed the central region of the Milky Way Galaxy in a number of wavelength
ranges. With which one of these is it most difficult to obtain information?
A) Infrared B) Radio C) Visible D) Gamma ray
Ans: C
Section: 15-4

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

82.One curious fact about the Milky Way Galaxy, discovered in the past few years, is that
a significant fraction of its mass is in the form of globular clusters, distributed in a
spherical halo centered on the galactic center.
a large black hole is slowly clearing out the mass near the galactic center, leaving a
cold, dark void.
enormous amounts of energy are pouring out of a compact but very massive source
at its center.
the majority of its mass is within the spiral arms extending out into space.
Ans: C
Section: 15-4
83.What is the significance of the object Sagittarius A* (“Sagittarius A-star”) in our Galaxy?
It appears to be a jet of material ejected from an accretion disk around a
supermassive black hole in the galactic nucleus.
It is a globular cluster passing close to the galactic nucleus, and the RR Lyrae stars
in it allow the distance to the galactic center to be calculated.
It is a bright, high-speed cloud of gas close to the galactic nucleus that allows the
mass of the nucleus to be calculated.
It appears to be the actual nucleus of the Galaxy.
Ans: D
Section: 15-4

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

A)
B)
C)
D)

84.Positrons (i.e., positively charged electrons) are being produced in the galactic center.
How have these positrons been detected?
They create arches of magnetic field that are visible at radio wavelengths.
They spiral in magnetic fields, producing a strong source of synchrotron radiation.
They annihilate with ordinary electrons, producing gamma rays with a
characteristic energy.
They reach the Earth as cosmic rays from the direction of the galactic center.
Ans: C
Section: 15-4

85.What type of object has been proposed to explain the tremendous activity detected at the
center of our Galaxy?
A)
A giant molecular cloud
C) A supernova explosion
B)
A supermassive black hole
D) A rapidly rotating neutron star
Ans: B
Section: 15-4

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

86.In which of the following sites in our universe has a supermassive black hole been
proposed to account for recent observations?
At the center of our Galaxy
At the center of the Ring Nebula, a planetary nebula in Lyra
At the center of the universe, where the Big Bang occurred at the beginning of the
universe
At the center of the Crab Nebula, an old supernova remnant
Ans: A
Section: 15-4
87.What evidence now exists for a supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy?
Very bright X-ray emissions from the galactic center
Observations of intense inflow of matter toward the center of the Galaxy as seen by
light, Doppler-shifted toward the red, emitted by this matter
Very rapid motion of matter close to the nucleus of the Galaxy, requiring a very
massive body to hold it in orbit
A very dark void in an otherwise bright region of space near the galactic center,
indicating the presence of a black hole
Ans: C
Section: 15-4

88.What is the evidence that indicates to some astronomers that a supermassive black hole
exists at the center of our Galaxy?
A)
Doppler shift of light from stars in the near neighborhood of the galactic center
indicates that the stars are falling inward at very high speeds.
B)
The Sun's motion in space shows that, if Kepler's law holds for its orbit around the
galactic center, there MUST be a very massive object at this center.
C)
No electromagnetic radiation at all comes from the precise position of the galactic
center, and it just looks like a dark void in space.

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

Measurement of gas clouds orbiting the galactic center at very high speeds
indicates they would otherwise rapidly move out of the Galaxy unless some very
massive object were holding them in orbit.
Ans: D
Section: 15-4
89.The possible presence of a supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy has been
deduced from
gravitational radiation being emitted by stars as they are swallowed by the black
hole.
powerful magnetic fields in the huge filaments arching away from (or toward) the
center.
the number of globular clusters that concentrate toward the galactic center.
the very high orbital speed of ionized gas clouds close to the galactic center.
Ans: D
Section: 15-4
90.What appear to be the characteristics of the object at the center of our Galaxy?
20 solar masses in a volume the size of the Sun
Several trillion solar masses in a volume 2 ly in diameter
4 million solar masses in a volume the size of our solar system
5 billion solar masses in a volume smaller then Jupiter's orbit
Ans: C
Section: 15-4
91.The broadening of spectral lines due to the collective Doppler shifts of objects orbiting
the center of our Galaxy suggests that the mass at the center of the Galaxy is about 4
million solar masses. What is believed to be the diameter of this supermassive object?
About half a parsec
About 8 ly
Similar to the diameter of our solar system
Smaller than the diameter of the Sun
Ans: C
Section: 15-4
92.If the galactic center is now thought to contain a supermassive black hole, why is the Sun
not falling into it under the black hole's extreme gravity?
Because its mass is so small that even this extreme mass concentration at the
galactic center will not exert a significant force on it
Because the inward force exerted on the Sun from the black hole is offset by the
force exerted outward by the hidden “dark” matter beyond the Sun's orbit
Because the mutual gravitational forces of local stars in the Orion spiral arm are
sufficient to overcome the strong inward force and keep the Sun moving in its orbit
Because it has sufficient velocity that it can orbit the galactic center in a circle
Ans: D
Section: 14-6 and 15-4

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

93.The star S2 orbits Sagittarius A* (the galactic center) with a period of 15.2 years and a
semimajor axis of 950 AU. What does Kepler's third law suggest as the total amount of
mass inside the orbital radius of S2?
A) 1.3 × 106 M. B) 2.6 × 106 M. C) 3.7 × 106 M. D) 9.4 × 109 M.
Ans: C
Section: 15-4 and Toolbox 11-4

A)
B)
C)
D)

94.If the black hole in the center of the Galaxy has a mass of 4 × 106 solar masses, what
would be its radius (that is, the radius of its event horizon)?
1.2 × 107 m (about twice the radius of the Earth)
1.2 × 109 m (about twice the radius of the Sun)
1.2 × 1010 m (about one-fifth of Mercury's orbital radius)
1.2 × 1012 m (almost twice Jupiter's orbital radius)
Ans: C
Section: 15-4 and Toolbox 14-1
95.If the black hole in the center of the galaxy has a mass of 4 × 106 solar masses, what
would be the orbital period of the Earth around this hole in an orbit of radius 1 AU
(assuming that Newtonian physics and Kepler's third law apply)?
A) Less than 1 second B) 3 minutes C) 4½ hours D) 5 weeks
Ans: C
Section: 15-4 and Toolbox 11-4

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

A)
B)

96.Where in space would you look for a globular cluster?
In the Milky Way disk, moving in a circular orbit around the galactic center
Only in elliptical galaxies since they are composed of old stars and do not exist in
young systems like spiral galaxies
In the Milky Way galactic halo, orbiting the galactic center in a long elliptical orbit
around the galactic center
In the asteroid belt
Ans: C
Section: 15-5
97.What is the galactic halo?
A system of arcs and other gas clouds surrounding the galactic nucleus
A system of satellite galaxies surrounding our own Milky Way Galaxy
A spherical distribution of stars and globular clusters centered on the nuclear bulge
A large disk of stars and molecular clouds extending outward from the nuclear
bulge
Ans: C
Section: 15-5
98.Does the halo of the Milky Way Galaxy include other galaxies?
No, it is not possible for one galaxy to orbit another galaxy.
No, the halo is limited to field stars and globular clusters.

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

C)
D)

A)
B)
C)
D)

Yes, the halo region includes the Andromeda Galaxy.
Yes, the halo region includes several small galaxies, among them the Magellanic
Clouds, two small irregular galaxies.
Ans: D
Section: 15-5
99.The stars in the Milky Way Galaxy
obey Hubble's law of recession.
are all receding from the galactic center.
move generally around the galactic center.
number between 8 and 10 million.
Ans: C
Section: 15-6

100.The speed of the Sun in its orbit around the Galaxy is deduced by reference to and
observations of
A)
the orbital motions of stars near the Sun.
B)
globular clusters and halo stars.
C)
Cepheid variables, which provide a distance standard.
D)
the galactic center, about which the Sun is orbiting.
Ans: B
Section: 15-6
101.The most important reason why globular clusters are useful for finding the speed of the
Sun in its orbit around the Galaxy is that
A)
globular clusters are bright and easily seen at large distances.
B)
globular clusters on average rotate at the same speed as the Sun around the center
of the Galaxy.
C)
globular clusters are distributed uniformly around the Galaxy.
D)
the average velocity of all the globular clusters must be zero if the globulars are to
maintain their orbits around the galactic center.
Ans: D
Section: 15-6
102.Which of the following statements correctly describes the rotation of our Galaxy?
The disk rotates like a solid object (objects at all distances take the same time to
complete an orbit), and the halo objects have random orbits with no net rotation of
the halo about the center of the Galaxy.
B)
Objects in the disk have random orbits with no net rotation of the disk about the
center of the Galaxy, and the halo rotates differentially (objects farther from the
center take longer to complete an orbit than objects closer to the center).
C)
The disk rotates differentially (objects farther from the center take longer to
complete an orbit than objects closer to the center), and the halo rotates
differentially (objects farther from the center take longer to complete an orbit than
objects closer to the center).
D)
The disk rotates differentially (objects farther from the center take longer to
A)

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

complete an orbit than objects closer to the center), and the halo objects have
random orbits with no net rotation of the halo about the center of the Galaxy.
Ans: D
Section: 15-6
A)
B)

103.The time for the Sun to orbit the galactic center once in its motion in the Galaxy is
28,000 years.
C) about 500,000 years.
230 million years.
D) 2.3 million years.
Ans: B
Section: 15-6
104.In its orbit around the center of our Galaxy, the Sun moves a distance equal to the
diameter of the Earth in a time of about
A) 1 second. B) 1 minute. C) 1 day. D) 1 hour.
Ans: B
Section: 15-6

105.Which two parameters of star motion in the Milky Way are represented by its rotation
curve?
A)
Orbital speed as a function of star distance from the galactic center
B)
Orbital period of the stars as a function of their distance from the galactic center
C)
Orbital speed of the stars as a function of their individual masses
D)
Star position above or below the galactic plane as a function of distance from the
galactic center
Ans: A
Section: 15-6
106.If the Sun were traveling around the galactic center along with companion stars (all in
circular orbits) as depicted in Fig. 15-16 of Comins and Kaufmann, Discovering the
Universe, 7th Ed., from which of the stars described below would you measure a Doppler
shift of their light? (Hint: Think about relative velocities and orbital velocities at
different orbital distances from the galactic center.)
A)
Stars at the same orbital distance as the Sun
B)
Stars in directions 45° from the Sun's direction of motion
C)
None of them because they are all moving along with the Sun and have no relative
velocity with respect to it
D)
Stars directly between the Sun and the galactic center
Ans: B
Section: 15-6
107.A radio astronomer points a radio telescope through the Galaxy's disk in a direction
directly away from the center of the Galaxy. If the astronomer measures the Doppler
shifts of the 21-cm radio line of hydrogen from interstellar clouds at several different
distances from the Sun along this line of sight, what should be the result? (Fig. 15-8 of
Comins and Kaufmann, Discovering the Universe, 7th Ed., may be helpful.)
A)
The Doppler shift should have a constant value, regardless of distance, as a result

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

B)
C)
D)

of the Sun's speed of motion around the center of the Galaxy.
The Doppler shift should be almost zero for all clouds, regardless of distance.
The Doppler shift should rise to a maximum at some distance, then decrease again.
The Doppler shift should be larger the farther away the cloud is.
Ans: B
Classification: C
Section: 15-6

108.Which parameter is plotted as a function of distance from the galactic center in a rotation
curve of a galaxy?
A)
The mass of matter inside the distance from the galactic center
B)
The thickness of the galactic disk
C)
The mass of cool hydrogen gas
D)
The speed of stars orbiting the galactic center
Ans: D
Section: 15-6
109.How do we obtain an estimate of the amount of mass that is inside the Sun's orbital path
in our Galaxy?
A)
By counting stars, assuming an average stellar mass and calculating the total mass
B)
By observing the bending of light from distant galaxies as this light passes near the
Milky Way center
C)
By observing the movement of the Galaxy toward neighboring galaxies because of
mutual gravitational attraction
D)
By applying Kepler's law to the motion of the Sun and other nearby stars
Ans: D
Section: 15-6
110.The present estimate for the total mass of our Galaxy in units of solar mass is about
A) 2.3 × 108. B) 1012. C) 1.1 × 1011. D) 1066.
Ans: B
Section: 15-7
111.Much of the mass of our Galaxy appears to be in the form of “dark” matter of unknown
composition. At present, this matter can be detected only because
A)
it emits synchrotron radiation at radio wavelengths.
B)
its gravitational pull affects orbital motions in the Galaxy.
C)
it bends light from distant quasars.
D)
it blocks out the light from distant stars in the plane of our Galaxy.
Ans: B
Section: 15-7
112.The presence of a very large amount of unseen (“dark”) matter in the halo of our Galaxy
is deduced from
A)
the rotation curve of our Galaxy, in which orbital speeds of stars appear to obey
Kepler's law.

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

B)
C)
D)

the rotation curve of our Galaxy, in which orbital speeds of stars in the outer
regions of the Galaxy are significantly higher than is predicted by Kepler's law in
which the value for the observed mass in the Galaxy is used.
the unexpected absence of luminous matter (stars, etc.) beyond a certain distance
from the galactic center.
the high amount of interstellar absorption in certain directions.
Ans: B
Section: 15-7

113.A rotation curve is a plot of the rotational velocity of a galaxy as a function of the
distance away from the galactic center. Predictions for rotation curves for spiral galaxies
suggest that the curve should decline beyond the galactic bulge. Actual measurements,
however, show that the rotation curve is flat beyond the bulge. What does this deviation
from prediction tell us about spiral galaxies, including the Milky Way?
A)
They are not rotating as rapidly as we had believed.
B)
The spiral arms move together as a rigid object.
C)
There is a great deal of unseen mass surrounding the visible galaxy.
D)
The centers of spiral galaxies contain supermassive black holes.
Ans: C
Section: 15-7
A)
B)
C)
D)

114.What fraction of the mass of our Galaxy is in a form that we have been able to see?
About 50%
100%—who ever heard of matter that can't be seen?
About 10%
About 90%
Ans: C
Section: 15-7

115.What fraction of the mass of our Galaxy appears to be in the form of dark matter, which
we cannot see but can detect through its gravitational influence?
A)
About 50%
B)
About 10%
C)
0%—who ever heard of matter that can't be seen?
D)
About 90%
Ans: D
Section: 15-7
116.What is microlensing?
A)
The beaming of radiation by accretion disks
B)
The use of small telescopes to enhance contrast by eliminating scattered light
C)
The focusing of starlight by the gravitational fields of “small” objects like planets
or brown dwarfs
D)
The focusing of starlight by planetary atmospheres
Ans: C
Section: 15-7

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CHAPTER 15: The Milky Way Galaxy

A)
B)
C)
D)

117.What is microlensing?
A minute shift in the apparent position of a star as an object passes in front of it
A slow brightening of a star as an object passes in front of it
The temporary disappearance of a star as an object passes in front of it
A gradual reduction in brightness of a star as an object passes in front of it
Ans: B
Section: 15-7

118.In a recent survey of stars in the sky, it was found that occasionally a star that is normally
of constant brightness will slowly brighten and then fade back to its original brightness
again over the space of several weeks. What is believed to be the cause of this change in
brightness?
A)
A massive coronal ejection on a star with abnormally strong magnetic fields
B)
The gradual motion of the star through a break or hole between interstellar dust
clouds
C)
Microlensing by compact objects such as brown dwarfs passing in front of the star
D)
The “lighthouse beam” of a slowly rotating neutron star companion
Ans: C
Section: 15-7
119.What physical process has allowed astronomers to measure the overall number and
distribution of brown dwarfs in our Galaxy?
A)
Their gravitational fields can bend the light from background stars.
B)
They emit copious amounts of infrared radiation, which can penetrate the
interstellar medium.
C)
Molecules in their atmospheres emit radio waves that can be detected from the
Earth.
D)
They occasionally eclipse (block the light from) more distant stars.
Ans: A
Section: 15-7
120.What has microlensing told us about the role of brown dwarfs in the Galaxy?
They cannot be a major component of the dark matter in the Galaxy.
They are a major component of the matter that is falling into the supermassive
black hole in the galactic center.
C)
They are one of the most important components of the Galaxy's dark matter.
D)
It has told us almost nothing yet—microlensing is too difficult to observe.
Ans: A
Section: 15-7
A)
B)

Page 25