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17
votes
4answers
7k views

What did general relativity clarify about Mercury?

I frequently hear that Kepler, using his equations of orbital motion, could predict the orbits of all the planets to a high degree of accuracy -- except Mercury. I've heard that mercury's motion ...
7
votes
3answers
184 views

What is the origin of spin of celestial objects?

In an older question from June 2011, Why does each celestial object spin on its own axis?, apparently revived by the system, a user is asking about the origin of the rotation of celestial bodies. The ...
7
votes
3answers
418 views

Are there planetary systems where the planes of orbits vary greatly?

Inspired by this question, are there any known planetary systems with largely varying planes of orbit? For example a system where two planets have perpendicular planes?
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What would it be like if we had a planet very close to us?

My desktop background rotates through a bunch of space and nature scenes, and this one came up. What would be the effect on people walking around down here, if another earth was looming overhead ...
3
votes
1answer
159 views

Can a very small portion of an ellipse be a parabola?

We consider that when a body is projected from any height from the earth surface with a speed lesser than the orbital speed ( tangentially to the earth surface at that point.) it follows an elliptical ...
10
votes
4answers
784 views

Collision of Phobos

Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. Both are irregular and are believed to have been captured from the nearby asteroid belt. Phobos always shows the same face to Mars because of tidal forces ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Historically, how do we know that Earth moves around Sun? And it does so in an elliptical orbit?

I know the basics of solar system like how Earth moves around Sun, and that we have so many planets, elliptical orbit of earth, and how far is sun from earth etc etc. I want to take a step back and ...
1
vote
1answer
355 views

What is the typical orbital life of an artificial satellite?

The orbit of satellites around Earth eventually decays, or so I read. This is typically caused either by atmospheric drag, or by tides. I would assume most satellites have a limited service life in ...
18
votes
6answers
4k views

Why are the orbits of planets in the Solar System nearly circular?

Except for Mercury, the planets in the Solar System have very small eccentricities. Is this property special to the Solar System? Wikipedia states: Most exoplanets with orbital periods of 20 ...
9
votes
6answers
25k views

Gravity on the International Space Station

We created a table in my physics class which contained the strength of gravity on different planet and objects in space. At altitude 0(earth), the gravitational strength is 100%. On the moon at ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Rocky Planet in the center of System [duplicate]

We all know that mostly stars are at the center of planetary systems, but is it possible that instead of a star there was a rocky planet in the center with stars (and other planets and moons) orbiting ...
6
votes
2answers
624 views

How did pre-Copernican astronomers accurately predict planetary position?

Copernican elements (circular orbital elements) are not very accurate. But Copernicus simplified our understanding a great deal by placing the Sun at the center of the system. Im astonished by the ...
5
votes
0answers
213 views

Why is the orbital resonance of the Galilean moons stable?

It is well known that the orbits of Ganymede, Europa and Io are in a 4:2:1 resonance. Most online sources (including but not limited to Wikipedia) say that such an orbital resonance, along with the ...
4
votes
5answers
912 views

Gravitation in a space that is topologically toroidal

In my scant spare time I'm building an Asteroids game. You know - a little ship equipped with a pea shooter and a bunch of asteroids floating around everywhere waiting to be to blown up. But, I wanted ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

How does Earth carry Moon with it, if it can not force Moon to touch it by gravitational force?

Earth's gravitational force is acting on its Moon in such a way that it forces the Moon to rotate round its orbit by centripetal force and carries it while rotating round the Sun by gravitational ...
3
votes
2answers
267 views

Do black holes accelerate in spin as they obtain more mass?

It is known that - When a star collapses during the formation of the black hole, the black hole obtains the spin of the star which it collapsed from... What I'd like to know is, If this spin ...
2
votes
1answer
450 views

Angular momentum components as independent integrals of motion

I was told that in order to solve the Kepler problem (6 degrees of freedom in total) you have to proceed, step by step, to reduce those degrees of freedom using the integrals of motion. You do so ...
1
vote
1answer
143 views

Determine orbital position after change in velocity

I am working on a satellite simulator for a project/game and I am stuck on this one bit of physics. So far I have a satellite that revolves around earth on a 2D plane following Keplerian motion using ...
1
vote
1answer
493 views

On the origin of the rotation of celestial bodies [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why does Venus rotate the opposite direction as other planets? Why does every thing spin? As far as I can imagine, almost each celestial body, star, planet, ...
0
votes
1answer
66 views

Square Cube Law?

I've heard about something called the square cube law. What is it? All I know of it is that it has something to do with mass of large objects and their gravitational influence.