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

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36
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2answers
2k 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?
18
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14answers
5k views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
643 views

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 ...
10
votes
4answers
679 views

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 ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

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 ...
9
votes
1answer
412 views

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
384 views

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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
12answers
2k views

Is the distance between the sun and the earth increasing?

M = mass of the sun m = mass of the earth r = distance between the earth and the sun The sun is converting mass into energy by nuclear fusion. $F = \frac{GMm}{r^2} = \frac{mv^2}{r} \rightarrow r ...
24
votes
5answers
3k views

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 ...
24
votes
6answers
5k views

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)?
63
votes
5answers
6k views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
496 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
492 views

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 ...
5
votes
4answers
473 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
723 views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
543 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

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.
1
vote
1answer
195 views

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 ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

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. ...
11
votes
3answers
3k views

Gravity in other dimensions than 3 and stable orbits

I have heard from here that stable orbits (ones that require a large amount of force to push it significantly out of it's elliptical path) can only exist in a three spatial dimensions because gravity ...
18
votes
9answers
12k views

Why are orbits elliptical?

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
784 views

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
326 views

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 inflation the same way. Also that it ...
7
votes
4answers
565 views

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 ...
19
votes
5answers
2k views

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 ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Might a planet perform figure-8 orbits around two stars?

Might a planet perform figure-8 orbits around two stars? I'm thinking that if the two stars were equal mass (and not orbiting each other) then a planet that were to go right between them would ...
11
votes
1answer
267 views

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
570 views

When and how were relative distances to the planets first measured?

I understand that the absolute distance to a planet can be measured using earth-baseline (e.g., diurnal) parallax, and that the first reasonably accurate such measurement was made for Mars by Cassini ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

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 ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

When will the Moon reach escape velocity?

From what I know, the Moon is accelerating away from the Earth. Do we know when it will reach escape velocity? How do we calculate this?
10
votes
6answers
7k views

What is the simplest way to prove that the Earth orbits the Sun?

Assume you're talking to someone ignorant of the basic facts of astronomy. How would you prove to them that the Earth orbits the Sun? Similarly, how would you prove to them that the Moon orbits ...
7
votes
3answers
416 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
287 views

Why is there this asymmetry between the two foci of an orbital ellipse?

Why does the Earth revolve with the Sun at one of its foci? Does the other focus do nothing? Why is there this asymmetry in our solar system?
4
votes
1answer
599 views

How is the equation of motion on an ellipse derived?

I would like to show that a particle orbiting another will follow the trajectory \begin{equation} r = \frac{a(1-e^2)}{1 + e \cos(\theta)}. \end{equation} I would like to do this with minimal ...
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 ...
1
vote
2answers
56 views

Centrifuge speed of an object higher than a stationary orbit

In the question At what altitude above equator do gravitational and centrifugal forces cancel each other?, I asked how high a tower on the equator has to be such that at its top, gravitational and ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
19
votes
2answers
340 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
5k views

Why do we always see the same side of the Moon? [duplicate]

I am puzzled why we always see the same side of the Moon even though it is rotating around its own axis apart from revolving around the earth. Shouldn't this only be possible if the Moon is not ...
7
votes
3answers
266 views

What exactly is the microgravity field in orbit?

The ISS and other objects in orbit still experience small acceleration outside from the perfect line of orbit (of the system CM). For instance, two objects in the ISS that are let to be at rest will ...
4
votes
2answers
580 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 ...
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
257 views

Condition for closed orbit [closed]

I'd like to know when an orbit is closed. I know that, to have a closed orbit, there is a ratio that must be a rational number, but I don't know other things..
2
votes
3answers
286 views

Can a photon be made to orbit a known (or undiscovered theoretical) body?

Can a photon through some process be made to orbit a celestial or any other object? Two follow-up questions. Can this orbit be described as the photon crossing its own path. Will this ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is the center-of-mass of 2 bodies at the focus of their elliptical orbits?

Why is the center-of-mass of 2 bodies (which interact only via Newtonian gravity) located at a focus of each of the elliptical orbits? I know that when there are no external forces, the center of ...
0
votes
4answers
2k views

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?
20
votes
4answers
3k views

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 ...