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23
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4answers
24k 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
7k views

Why are L4 and L5 lagrangian points stable?

This diagram from wikipedia shows the gravitational potential energy of the sun-earth two body system, and demonstrates clearly the semi-stability of the L1, L2, and L3 lagrangian points. The blue ...
1
vote
1answer
656 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
484 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
303 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
512 views

How to learn celestial mechanics?

I'm a PhD student in math and am really excited about celestial mechanics. I was wondering if anyone could give me a roadmap for learning this subject. The amount of information about it on the ...
4
votes
5answers
728 views

How gently could a comet/asteroid/meteorite “hit” Earth?

Could an object from outer-space with the right velocity and orbit come into contact with the surface of our planet in a manner that wouldn't cause it to burn in our atmosphere?
7
votes
3answers
725 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?
6
votes
2answers
616 views

How about an exact solution for the position of a planet as a function of time?

Recently I was surprised to discover that no exact solution for the position of a planet as a function of time exists. I am referring to the two-body problem in a gravitational field where Newtons law ...
4
votes
1answer
2k 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
277 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
68 views

Create a star system fit to conic equation

For simulation purposes, I'm trying to create a binary star system. If I have a conic equation such as $ax^2 + by^2 = c$, and the masses of two stars, how would I find the $x$- and $y$- velocity ...
10
votes
4answers
904 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Gravitational slingshot maximum

I have recently read an article about gravitation slingshot assist used by Voyagers 1-2, and was thinking on why this hasn't been used for travel between solar and other systems. I mean sligshot can ...
3
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
148 views

Synchronized rotation of the moon

Does the moon rotates? Yes. The rotation matches exactly the orbit of the Earth. Which means in 28 days the moon makes one rotation. Shouldn't this be also happening with the Earth rotation around the ...
0
votes
0answers
71 views

3-body system centre of mass

I have a three body system of point masses that represent mercury, earth and the sun. I want them to orbit about a common centre of mass, but I think the centre of mass will move. I need the centre of ...
0
votes
1answer
79 views

Can a satellite remain directly over a city?

Is it possible to put an artificial satellite into an orbit in such a way that it will always remain direct over a city (I mean at any specific place)?
19
votes
7answers
49k 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 ...
38
votes
8answers
6k views

“Falling upward” - how far you have to be from Earth to start falling to the Moon?

Talking about gravity with my 9 y/o she asked when do we start "falling upward" to the Moon. What is the distance at which the Moon's gravitational attraction is higher than that of the Earth and thus ...
23
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
448 views

Extended object passing near an event horizon

Suppose a physically realistic object of nontrivial size (such as a star) free-falls past a black hole. The center-of-mass trajectory for the object is hyperbolic and (therefore) completely outside ...
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
0answers
425 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 ...
1
vote
6answers
1k views

Can orbital energy be a source of perpetual power?

A thought just came to me, and I want to comfirm it here: If we figured out a way to harvest the energy from the orbit of the Moon, would that be perpetual? The Moon has been orbiting the earth for ...
1
vote
1answer
297 views

Could this planetary superalignment happen?

Here's the 'superalignment' I'm referring to: We've all heard the stories about 'mystical planetary alignments' that will increase/decrease the effective surface gravity experienced on Earth (one ...
6
votes
2answers
1k 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
3answers
108 views

Elliptical orbit changing as a star's mass increases

I'm studying Kepler's Laws, specifically the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. I know that if the Earth was more massive, the orbit would not be significantly affected. If the Sun was more massive, I ...
4
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
57 views

What does “transfer” of angular momentum mean?

The Moon’s gravity produces tidal deformations or “bulges” in the Earth. Because of the Earth’s rotation, the line that goes through the bulges is not aligned with the line between the Earth and the ...
3
votes
2answers
2k 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
303 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
574 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
835 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
0answers
21 views

Books on Celestial Mechanics [duplicate]

My background is mathematics. I would like to study celestial (not classical) mechanics and looking for an appropriate book. I found that somebody has already asked a similar question "How to learn ...
0
votes
1answer
64 views

Why do the stars in a binary system, revolve diametrically opposite to each other?

I encountered this question, as I was reading up on Gravity. The author of my textbook says that the stars orbit a common centre which is their center of mass. I somehow think that this fact might ...
0
votes
1answer
49 views

Orbital but stationary motion

Is there a place between the Moon and Earth where an object can rest freely and revolve with the Moon? What is that called?