Note: It is recommended that you save your response as you complete each question.
Question 1 (1 point)
The Andromeda Galaxy is a "spiral galaxy" probably not very different from our own Milky Way.
What is our current best estimate of the number of stars in the Andromeda Galaxy?
Question 1 options:
About 400 million.
About 40 billion.
About 4 billion.
About 40 million..
About 400 billion.
Question 2 (1 point)
The Earth's global magnetic field is maintained by
Question 2 options:
induced currents caused by the Earth's rapid rotation in presence of the Sun's
strong magnetic field.
a geodynamo that produces a field through mantle convection.
a permanent magnetism frozen into the Earth's core when it cooled through the
the strong permanent magnetism of its iron core.
a geodynamo that produces a field through a process closely tied to the
circulation of fluid iron in the liquid layer of Earth's core.
Question 3 (1 point)
Which among the following planetary, solar-planet or planet-moon pairs does not show spin-orbit
Question 3 options:
Neptune and Uranus in orbit about the Sun.
Co-orbiting Pluto and Charon.
Mercury in orbit about the Sun.
Io in orbit about Jupiter.
The Moon in orbit about Earth.
Question 4 (1 point)
We have, since the Apollo astronauts installed laser retro-reflecting mirrors on the surface of the
Moon, measured the increasing distance between Earth and the Moon and (hence) the lengthening
orbital period . The fact that the Moon is slowly retreating from the Earth at about 3.8 cm/yr is a
consequence of: Question 4 options:
the Sun's dominant gravitational force which is slowly pulling the Moon away
a continuing transfer of mass from the Earth to the moon through quantum
a natural evolution of planetary satellites towards becoming independent planets
a transfer of angular momentum from the Earth's rotation to the moon's
orbital revolution as a consequence of tidal friction on the Earth.
Question 5 (1 point)
The pressure of Mars' atmosphere at its surface (complete sentence)
Question 5 options:
is almost exactly the same as the Earth's atmospheric pressure.
is just about 10 times the Earth's atmospheric pressure.
is about 0.01 (1- one hundredth) that of the Earth's atmospheric
has not yet been determined.
is approximately 100 times the Earth's atmospheric pressure.
Question 6 (1 point)
About 70% of all earthquakes occur along the subduction zones. About 10% occur within the
interior of tectonic plates well away from plate margins. Most of the remainder occur?
Question 6 options:
At the boundary between the Earth's mantle and core.
Where bubbles rising through Earth's mantle break through the crust.
In the most populated regions of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Where impacts caused by asteroids and large meteoroids have weakened the
Where lithospheric plates are either separating or slipping past each
Question 7 (1 point)
Which of the following volcanoes is not a shield volcano?
Question 7 options:
Olympus Mons on Mars.
Mauna Loa on Earth.
Mt. Fuji on Earth. Sif Mons on Venus.
Maat Mons on Venus.
Question 8 (1 point)
The "Big Bang" cosmological model essentially replaced the previously accepted "Steady-
state" model when "quasars" were discovered in the early 1960s. Since then, Alan Guth has
elaborated the model to the "Inflationary Big Bang" model which has been further refined by a
host of astrophysicists into the current "Concordance model" which integrates all cosmological
data so-far obtained. Who is credited with the proposal of the "Big Bang" model?
Question 8 options:
Question 9 (1 point)
The original "Big Bang" explosion of the universe (choose one completion of the sentence)
Question 9 options:
must have resulted from the collapse of a previous universe for, if not, we would
not possess the rich chemistry beyond iron ( Fe) that we have on Earth.
produced only "dark matter" which then decayed into the ordinary matter we
know of during the billions of years since the explosion.
produced no "matter" at all, but spawned the "dark energy" which is still pushing
the universe apart.
produced all the chemical elements we know of within the first few following
produced vast quantities of only hydrogen ( H, H) and helium
3 4 7
( He, He) along with very small traces of lithium ( Li) and beryllium
( Be, Be) within the first few seconds.
Question 10 (1 point)
We see the Universe to be expanding from every interior point and in all directions. When we
reverse this expansion by mathematical-physical modelling, we find that
Question 10 options:
the Universe was surely created by an "Intelligent designer".
the universe seems to have started expanding from a singular point some 4.567
billion years ago.
time and space of our Universe seem to have originated 13.7 billion
the universe is infinite in space and time. the laws of physics that govern our physics are incapable of determining any of
the history of the evolution.
Question 11 (1 point)
Which of the following radiogenic dating methods have determined the age of the oldest of the Jack
Hills detrital zircons?
Question 11 options:
The samarium-neodymium system: 146Sm → 14Nd.
238 206 235 207
Uranium-lead sequence using U → Pb, U → Pb concordia
The potassium-argon decay sequence: 40K → 40Ar.
The carbon-14 decay: C → N.
The rubidium-strontium decay: 8Rb → 87Sr method.
Question 12 (1 point)
The oldest meteorites that are found to have fallen onto Earth have "ages" that cluster up against
what age? Note that we take this to define the "age of Earth".
Question 12 options:
4.404 billion years.
13.73 billion years.
4.567 billion years.
248 billion years.
64.98 billion years.
Question 13 (1 point)
In the mid-1970s, Vera Rubin discovered that stars orbiting around galaxies did not show orbital
speeds that corresponded to the expectation of a Newtonian gravitational rule. Her work confirmed
what new understanding of the character of galaxies?
Question 13 options:
Galactic "rotation" (properly the revolution of stars within galaxies) is dominated
by forces other than gravity; among these, perhaps magnetic or electromagnetic
Galaxies contain more interior mass than we can see; hence the
quantitative measurement of the amount of Dark Matter.
Dark Energy is accelerating the orbiting stars and pushing them into higher
Newton's law of gravity does not hold exactly at the scale of distances in
The physics of past time must follow a different gravitational law than does our
Question 14 (1 point) If we were to start with N radiogenic nuclei of a given half life, how many would we expect to have
after a period of 3 half lives?
Question 14 options:
There is no effective theory for determining how many of these original nuclei we
Question 15 (1 point)
Not withstanding the possibility that older rocks have been found at Porpoise Cove, the oldest rocks
that we, so-far, know of on Earth are from the Acasta Gneiss complex in the Northwest Territories
of Canada. Zircons within these rocks have been dated to what age?
Question 15 options:
about 4.4 billion years
13.7 billion years
between 3.96 and 4.03 billion years
4.54 billion years
Question 16 (1 point)
Our current best estimate for the time of the "Big Bang" moment is (Recall 1 billion years =
10 years in scientific numerical measure.):
Question 16 options:
much less than 10 billion years ago.
more than 20 billion years ago.
4.54 ± 0.1 billion years ago.
13.73 ± 0.12 billion years ago.
4.03 ± 0.1 billion years ago.
Question 17 (1 point)
Until 1928, what we now know to be the Andromeda Galaxy was thought to be a swirling "nebular
cloud" that might be another Solar System in the early stages of formation. Henriette Leavitt and
Edwin Hubble discovered a particular type of star and showed that such stars existed within the
nebula. This proved that Andromeda was actually a gigantic galaxy at great distance. What kind of
star did they discover and then use to show the great distance of Andromeda?
Question 17 options:
The Cepheid variable. The neutron star or pulsar.
The type-II supernova.
The Red Giant.
The type-I supernova.
Question 18 (1 point)
A star like our Sun sits on the "main-sequence" of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram which plots a
star's absolute magnitude against its colour class. A "main-sequence" star (complete the sentence)
Question 18 options:
is one that is presently in its hydrogen-to-helium (H → He) fusion stage.
is a small and dim star.
is one that has completed its entire life-cycle of nuclear fusion.
is one that is imminently going to explode as a supernova.
is one that has completed the fusion of helium into carbon (He → C).
Question 19 (1 point)
Our Universe is vast. By counting the number of galaxies we can see over very small sample areas
of the sky and then extrapolating to cover the whole celestial sphere, we come to an estimate of the
total number of galaxies in our Universe. How many?
Question 19 options:
About 200-400 million.
13.73 ± 0.15 billion
Fewer than 20-40 million.
At least 200-400 billion.
Question 20 (1 point)
The oldest minerals on Earth (i.e. apart from those that have been brought to Earth by meteorites)
are zircons found in sediments in Australia. The oldest of them have been dated by uranium-lead
methods to what age?
Question 20 options:
4.54 billion years
about 4.4 billion years
13.7 billion years
between 3.96 and 4.03 billion years
Question 21 (1 point) The oldest rocks returned from the Moon by the astronauts of the Apollo Mission have been dated
using various radioactive decay series to what age?
Question 21 options:
about 4.44 billion years
4.54 billion years
less than 3 billion years
13.7 billion years
Question 22 (1 point)
Among the stars we know, the one closest to the Sun is called Proxima Centauri. It is invisible to
the naked (unaided) eye. Why?
Question 22 options:
It is so close to the α-Centauri-A/B binary pair that we can't see it for their
It is a very small, dim red dwarf star with an apparent magnitude of
During all of recorded history, it has been obscured by a cloud of galactic dust.
It can be seen by the unaided eye, but only from the southern hemisphere.
It only appears above the horizon during the daytime and the Sun's brightness
overwhelms its light.
Question 23 (1 point)
K (potassium-40) decays to Ar (argon-40) through nuclear capture of an electron and
to40Ca (calcium-40) through emission of a βparticle. The decay half-life is approximately 1.26
billion years. The oldest rocks on Earth show ages of 40out 4 bil40on ye40s. If a zircon crystal in
these rocks formed 4 billion years ago with 1000 atoms oK and no Ar or Ca, what would we
expect the ratio ( Ar + Ca)/ K to be within it today if it had not been since melted or otherwise
Question 23 options:
40 40 40
about 3/1 (ie., 3X as much Ar + Ca as K)
40 40 40
about 7/1 (ie., 7X as much Ar + Ca as K)
about 1/1 (ie., equal amounts of 40Ar + 40Ca and 40K)
almost 0/1 (little or no Ar + Ca left)
many more than 1000/1 (almost no 40K left)
Question 24 (1 point)
Our Sun is classified as (complete sentence)
Question 24 options:
a Cepheid variable star. an M5 red dwarf star.
a G2 yellow dwarf star.
an M2 red giant star.
an A0 white dwarf star.
Question 25 (1 point)
We can see back in time (and far away) with optical, infrared and radio telescopes to the time,
following the "Big Bang" when the Universe first became transparent to light (electromagnetic
radiation). We can't see farther or earlier! The Universe at that time is "seen" as the CMB (Cosmic
Microwave Background) radiation which, now, has cooled to an average temperature of 2.72 K. How
long after the apparent moment of the "Big Bang" did our Universe become transparent to light?
Our current best estimate is:
Question 25 options:
about 380 years.
10 -43seconds (the Planck time)
about 380 000 years.
about 380 000 000 years.
Question 26 (1 point)
Within about 1 second of the explosion of the "Big Bang", (complete sentence)
Question 26 options:
expansion had not yet started..
the Universe became transparent to the passage of light through its space.
H (hydrogen), He (helium), Li (lithium) and Be (beryllium) were mostly formed.
leptons and quarks condensed from the pure energy field produced in
the "inflation" had not yet begun.
Question 27 (1 point)
While the "Big Bang" directly only produced the simplest of the atomic elements, nucleosynthetic
processes in stars have since built the complex and rich chemistry that we now have on Earth.
These nucleosynthetic processes that are responsible for the fires of stars are thought to begin, first
and in all stars, with one that synthesizes what element and isotope?
Question 27 options:
C (carbon), N (nitrogen) and O (oxygen) are the first elements to be
No elements, beyond those created during the "Big Bang" are synthesized.
1H (hydrogen) is first synthesized into He (helium). This is the
hydrogen-fusion process. 1
H (hydrogen) is first synthesized from quarks in the cores of stars.
All the rich chemistry of the periodic table is synthesized in the cores of even
very small stars.
Question 28 (1 point)
The earliest "era" designated by the "Geological Clock" is determined as that time in Earth's
history preceding the earliest rock record. While we have zircons that crystallized during this era we
only have a rock record as far back as, possibly, 4.28 billion years. That would, then, place the
recent boundary of what "era" (by name) at somewhere preceding this date?
Question 28 options:
Question 29 (1 point)
Indicate all the planets or moons in this list that have atmospheres thicker or denser than that of
Question 29 options:
Mars Jupiter Uranus Mercury Titan
Question 30 (1 point)
Order from largest (indicated by 1) to smallest (indicated by 5), the diameters of the terrestrial
planets and Earth's moon.
Question 30 options:
(5) Moon 3. 1 (largest)
4. 5 (smallest)
Question 31 (1 point)
93% of the chemical elements that comprise the Earth could be modelled by the mineral olivine
with a 1:1 magnesium-iron ratio. What is the Mg:Fe ratio of the olivine xenoliths that are brought
to the surface in basaltic lava flows?
Question 31 options:
Mg:Fe = 1:9 Mg:Fe = 1:1
Mg:Fe = 9:1
Mg:Fe = 1:2
Mg:Fe = 3:2
Question 32 (1 point)
Mercury takes 88 days to complete one orbit of the Sun. It's rotation (spin on its axis) is coupled to
this orbital period. How?
Question 32 options:
Mercury spins 3x on its axis during the period of 2 of its revolutions
about the Sun.
Mercury spins 2x on its axis during the period of 3 of its revolutions about the
Mercury spins exactly once on its axis during the period of its revolution about
Mercury's spin and orbit are not properly coupled harmonically.
Mercury is spin-orbit coupled to its nearest neighbouring planet, Venus.
Question 33 (1 point)
Scans of Mercury made by Earth-based radar indicate that craters at Mercury's poles (complete the
sentence or paragraph)
Question 33 options:
contain lakes of methane (CH ) 4nd ethane (C H ),2po6sibly frozen during the
are actually volcanic calderas dating from more than 4 billion years ago.
contain water ice. This is possible because Mercury is so far from the Sun and its
temperature so low that ice cannot be melted.
contain liquid water lakes as the atmospheric pressure is so high that the water
cannot evaporate into the atmosphere.
contain water ice. This is possible because the floors of the craters are
permanently shielded from sunlight, so the temperature never gets high
enough to melt the ice.
Question 34 (1 point)
Among the relatively light elements, O (oxygen) with atomic mass about 16amu is much more
abundant within Earth and the other terrestrial planets than are other light elements such
as N (nitrogen), C (carbon) and Ne (neon). The latter elements are relatively abundant in the Sun.
How is it that the terrestrial planets preferentially accumulated so much oxygen?
Question 34 options:
Oxygen is was released into the atmosphere by stromatolites early in Earth's
Oxygen is actually very much more plentiful in the Sun than Urey's (1950) estimates obtained.
Oxygen was combined into mineral silicates and oxides that comprised a
large proportion of the dusts in the inner region of the early solar
Oxygen was preferentially returned to the inner part of the Solar System by
water-rich comets during