# Tagged Questions

The path a body takes while moving through space under the influence of the gravitational forces of other bodies

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### Why do we say that the earth moves around the sun?

In history we are taught that the Catholic Church was wrong, because the Sun does not move around the Earth, instead the Earth moves around the Sun. But then in physics we learn that movement is ...
3k views

### Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer?

I always see pictures of the solar system where our sun is in the middle and the planets surround the sun. All these planets move on orbits on the same layer. Why?
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### Radial fall in a Newtonian gravitational field [duplicate]

Suppose an object of mass $m$ starts at rest at a radial distance $r_0$ from a perfectly spherical mass $M$ (where $m << M$), $r_0 > R =$ radius of $M$. Can we analytically determine when ...
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### Why do all the planets of the solar system orbit in roughly the same 2D plane?

Most images you see of the solar system are 2D and all planets orbit in the same plane. In a 3D view, are really all planets orbiting in similar planes? Is there a reason for this? I'd expect that the ...
1k views

### Kepler problem in time: how do two gravitationally attracted particles move? [duplicate]

Two particles with initial positions and velocities $r_1,v_1$ and $r_2,v_2$ are interacting by the inverse square law (with G=1), so that $${d^2r_1\over dt^2} = - { m_2(r_1-r_2)\over |r_1-r_2|^3}$$ ...
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### Are tidal power plants slowing down Earth's rotation?

Are tidal power plants slowing down Earth's rotation to the speed of the orbiting moon? (1 rotation per 28 cca days) Are they vice versa increasing the speed of moon orbiting by generating some ...
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### How does Newtonian mechanics explain why orbiting objects do not fall to the object they are orbiting?

The force of gravity is constantly being applied to an orbiting object. And therefore the object is constantly accelerating. Why doesn't gravity eventually "win" over the object's momentum, like a ...
35k views

### Why don't planets have Circular orbits?

This might be a completely wrong question, but this is bothering me since many days ago. Given the mass (Sun) curves the space around it, gravitation is the result of such curved space (Correct me if ...
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### What are common methods for calculating the time dependency of elliptical orbit?

After playing a game called "Kerbal Space Program" I got interested in orbital mechanics and started messing with simplified calculations to determine $\Delta v$ requirements. In which I compared two ...
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### What is the simplest way to prove that Earth orbits the Sun?

Assume you're talking to someone ignorant of the basic facts of astronomy. How would you prove to them that Earth orbits the Sun? Similarly, how would you prove to them that the Moon orbits Earth?
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### Where does the extra kinetic energy come from in a gravitational slingshot?

I read in this answer in this site that the KE a free-falling ball acquires is not originated by the attracting body but that energy was actually stored in the ball when it had been lifted to the ...
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 ...
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### Why are orbits elliptical? [duplicate]

Almost all of the orbits of planets and other celestial bodies are elliptical, not circular. Is this due to gravitational pull by other nearby massive bodies? If this was the case a two body system ...
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### How will the super massive black hole affect our galaxy?

I've recently learned that the general consensus is that several (if not, most) galaxies have super massive black holes in their center, in particular the Milky Way. This, at least to me, makes ...
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### What causes matter to initially rotate/spin/orbit?

What causes matter to initially rotate/spin/orbit? All I can find is the statement that in space particles of dust/gas/matter contract into a spinning disk due to gravity (to form stars, solar systems,...
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### Is Earth's orbit altered by recoil from take-off/launch/recovery of aero/space vehicles?

Just what the title states. Pretty much all movement on Earth is by pushing against the much greater mass of Earth. Given there are easily thousands of aircraft taking flight/landing, and a lesser ...
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### Uniform Circular Motion

Why does the object not go inward, into the circle if the acceleration is inward? I think its because the velocity to outward? So they sort of cancel each other out? But if the speed is kept constant ...
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### What symmetry causes the Runge-Lenz vector to be conserved?

Noether's theorem relates symmetries to conserved quantities. For a central potential $V \propto \frac{1}{r}$, the Laplace-Runge-Lenz vector is conserved. What is the symmetry associated with the ...
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### Derivation of Kepler's laws

How can analytically be derived the Kepler's laws? I found some extremely synthetic equations which from the Newton's laws (in particular $\mathbf{F} = m \mathbf{a}$) tried to obtain the Kepler's ...
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### Could there be a star orbiting around a planet?

I wonder if there ever could be a star (really small) which may orbit around a planet (really big)?
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### Gravity on the International Space Station - General Relativity perspective

My question is an extension to this one: Gravity on the International Space Station. If all the outside views of the ISS was sealed, then the crew inside would not be able to tell whether they were ...
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### Using 2D position, velocity, and mass to determine the parametric position equations for an orbiting body

I have a gravity-related question. I am programming an orbit simulator. I have everything up and running, but I would like to render the smaller body's orbital path (the larger body is fixed). To do ...
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### How do you calculate the anomalous precession of Mercury?

One of the three classic tests of general relativity is the calculation of the precession of the perihelion of Mercury's orbit. This precession rate had been precisely measured using data collected ...
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### Why doesn't dark matter affect planetary motion?

If the universe is made up of ~95% dark matter, and it interacts only gravitationally then why didn't Newton and Kepler discover it before ? Why does it show itself only in the radial velocity profile ...
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### Why are some galaxies flat?

What is the explanation for the flatness of some galaxies? (If it's due to their rotation then why they are rotating, why some other galaxies are not flat etc., I would like to hear a nice and ...
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### Can a balloon float into space? (+orbital velocity)

After watching the recent "space jump" a question arose. Why can a balloon not float into space? Can one be made/designed to do this? Next, everything in orbit is falling back to earth. It only ...
630 views

### Why don't stars in globular clusters all orbit in the same plane?

Globular clusters like Omega Centauri certainly don't seem to be very coplanar at all. In other words, why doesn't the explanation at Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/...
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### Put a bullet into orbit around the moon

While I was watching this beautiful video, the absence of air friction pushed me to ask myself: While standing on the surface of the moon, what is the initial velocity by which you can fire a bullet ...
720 views

### How does an object falling into a plain Schwarschild black hole appear from near the black hole?

I know that when viewed from infinity (or from a very large distance from the black hole event horizon), an object that falls into the black hole will appear to slow down and will become more and more ...
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### How do electrons get the energy to jump from one orbital to the next when in stationary orbits the electron does not radiate energy

My Question is how do electrons get energy/lose energy to jump up or down an orbital as in a stationary orbit they do not gain energy and their energy is finite?
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### Why doesn't an orbiting body keep accelerating?

As a physics newbie I'm trying to get a grip on basic orbital mechanics. I think I'm beginning to get grasp on how bodies interact with each other. When a body approaches another body it accelerates ...
632 views

### Are galactic stars spiraling inwards?

Are the stars in our galaxy spiraling inwards towards the center, or are they in a permanent orbit? And if we are heading towards the center then what is the rate of this process? I started ...
835 views

### What's the reason for the seasons?

In the diagram, it shows that the fundamental reason for different seasons is when the northern hemisphere is titled towards the sun there's summer in northern hemisphere and winter in southern ...
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### Does mass affect speed of orbit at a certain distance?

Does the mass of both the parent object, and the child object affect the speed at which the child object orbits the parent object? I thought it didn't (something like $T^2 \approx R^3$) until I saw ...
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### About binary stars and calculating velocity, period and radius of their orbit

I saw somewhere about being able to measure the velocity, period and radius of a binary star orbit by looking at red shift and blue shift. I understand it but can someone give me an example of ...
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### What are the temperatures of objects in Low Earth Orbit (LEO)?

What is the temperature of objects in Low Earth Orbit? Consider LEO to be 600km to 800km.
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### Expression for distance of closest approach in Schwarzschild Geodesics

The Wikipedia article Two-body problem in General Relativity uses two length-scale variables, $a$ and $b$, to simplify the math. For some information about these, consider these statements from the ...
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### Proving Kepler's 1st Law without differential equations

Is there a way to show that motion of Earth around the Sun is elliptical (Kepler's 1st law) from Newton's laws without resorting to the use of differential equations of motion?
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### Why do the planets' orbital distances fall on an exponential curve?

Background: I was recently reading a book on the planets to my son and I noticed a pattern in the distributions of the planets. The planets' distances roughly follow an exponential distribution. ...
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### Why are Saturn's rings so thin?

Take a look at this picture (from APOD http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110308.html): I presume that rocks within rings smash each other. Below the picture there is a note which says that Saturn's rings ...
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### What happens to orbits at small radii in general relativity?

I know that (most) elliptic orbits precess due to the math of general relativity, like this: source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-body_problem_in_general_relativity I also know that something ...
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### Does everything orbit around some universal “center of mass”?

I have read many questions about the center of the Universe. I even have some favorite ones. I understand the fact that every point in the universe experiences expansion of space the same way. Also ...
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### What's is the origin of Orbital Angular Momentum of electrons in atoms?

Consider the Hydrogen 1s electron. We know that, in the quantum picture, the electron isn't orbiting or rotating at all, rather we simply state that the electron is spread over the entire space with ...
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### How close does light have to be, to orbit a perfect sphere the size and mass of Earth?

The moon orbits Earth at about $380,\!000 \,\mathrm{km}$ away from it, at around $3,600 \,\mathrm{km}$ an hour. I was thinking, with light traveling at $300,\!000 \,\mathrm{km/s}$, how close to ...
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### Do celestial objects experience drag from the near vacuum of space/does the near vacuum have a mean velocity?

For instance do the planets around the sun experience drag from the near vacuum of space? Or do the (hydrogen) atoms in interplanetary space have a mean velocity near orbital speeds, such that object ...
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### What if the Moon was 100x more massive: Binary planets?

I was reading a couple of Earth-Moon related questions (Mars just collided with Earth! A question of eccentricity, Could the earth have another moon?) and they got me thinking about planet-moon ...
3k views

### Where does tidal energy come from?

Kind of an odd, random question that popped into my head. Tidal energy - earth's ocean movement, volcanism on some of Jupiter's moons, etc. - obviously comes from the gravitational interaction between ...
3k views

### Why does Pluto's orbit cross Neptune's orbit?

Why does Pluto's orbit cross Neptune's orbit? Is this a fault in Newton's law of gravitation?
I would like to show that a particle orbiting another will follow the trajectory $$r = \frac{a(1-e^2)}{1 + e \cos(\theta)}.$$ I would like to do this with minimal ...