Celestial body that orbits following an elliptical path around a star or stellar remnant.

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16
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4answers
26k views

How does gravity work underground?

Would the effect of gravity on me change if I were to dig a very deep hole and stand in it? If so, how would it change? Am I more likely to be pulled downwards, or pulled towards the edges of the hole?...
33
votes
5answers
19k views

Would you be weightless at the center of the Earth?

If you could travel to the center of the Earth (or any planet), would you be weightless there?
9
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3answers
2k views

If it was possible to dig a hole that went from one side of the Earth to the other…

...And you jumped in. What would happen when you got to the middle of the Earth? Would you gradually slow down, until you got to the middle and once you were in middle would every direction feel like ...
5
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
4k views

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial spin?

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial rotation? Why do Venus and Mercury rotate so slowly compared to other planets? Why does Venus rotate in a different direction to Mercury, Earth and Mars?
26
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3answers
5k views

What nonlinear deformations will a fast rotating planet exhibit?

It is common knowledge among the educated that the Earth is not exactly spherical, and some of this comes from tidal forces and inhomogeneities but some of it comes from the rotation of the planet ...
23
votes
3answers
4k views

Why does the Moon face Earth with the same side?

I know that the rotation period of the moon equals its revolution period. It's just so astonishing that these 2 values have such a small difference. I mean, what is the probability of these 2 values ...
12
votes
2answers
271 views

Is it possible to prove that planets should be approximately spherical using the calculus of variations?

Is it possible to use the Lagrangian formalism involving physical terms to answer the question of why all planets are approximately spherical? Lets assume that a planet is 'born' when lots of ...
21
votes
6answers
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 ...
20
votes
9answers
21k views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
238 views

Crater equation

I found this crater equation $$ D=0.07 \cdot C_f \cdot (g_e/g)^{1/6} \cdot (W p_a/p_t)^{1/3.4} $$ on a website, where $$ \begin{align} D &= \text{Crater Diameter}\\ C_f &= \text{Crater ...
18
votes
1answer
321 views

The transit of Venus and solar neutrino rates

The following question was posed at the end of Maury Goodman's June 2012 long-baseline neutrino newsletter. During the Venus transit of the sun, were more solar neutrinos absorbed in Venus, or ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Planets and Pluto? Neptune?

If one of the rules to be a planet is that it needs to clear ALL objects from their orbit, does this also make Neptune a non-planet? Since it has thus far failed to clear Pluto from it's orbit. Or ...
17
votes
1answer
859 views

Could there be a body of water the size of a planet?

My friend and I were reading the news of the discovery of a black hole spewing huge amounts of water vapor into space, and it got us thinking: could there be a blob of liquid water in space the size ...
6
votes
4answers
406 views

What is the general relativity explanation for why objects at the center of the Earth are weightless?

The idea that as you move through the earth you get a symmetric cancelling of gravitational acceleration which approaches zero acceleration due to gravity at the center of the earth makes a lot of ...
31
votes
6answers
10k 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)?
4
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5answers
9k views

Why does the moon not revolve around the sun directly?

The sun pulls on the moon with a force that is more than twice the magnitude of the force with which the earth attracts the moon. Why, then, doesn’t the sun take the moon away from the earth?
4
votes
1answer
216 views

Proportionality constant in crater equations

I have searched for equations regarding craters and I came across two of them. The first one is from this NOAO website in the level two section. There, it says that, $$ D^3\propto E $$ where $E$ is ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Why is Uranus's axis of rotation tilted?

The poles of Uranus are 'in the wrong place', why is this? historically, do we have any evidence of its past? also, do we have an understanding of how its rotational axis might be evolving?
1
vote
1answer
4k views

What is the relationship between mass, speed and distance of a planet orbiting the sun?

After reading this fascinating story about a new exoplanet, I was wondering about how mass, speed and distance determine a circular orbit of a planet around a star. Given the mass of the sun and star,...
11
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6answers
3k views

Can low-gravity planets sustain a breathable atmosphere?

If astronauts could deliver a large quantity of breathable air to somewhere with lower gravity, such as Earth's moon, would the air form an atmosphere, or would it float away and disappear? Is there a ...
5
votes
1answer
114 views

How to find the force of the compression at the core of a planet?

For example the core of the planet Jupiter, how to find out the magnitude of the force that compresses its core? and can that be thought of as the total force that holds the planet together?
22
votes
2answers
5k views

How long until we fall into the Sun?

As a planet moves through the solar system, a bow shock is formed as the solar wind is decelerated by the magnetic field of the planet. Presumably the creation of this shock wave would cause drag on ...
30
votes
3answers
3k 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. ...
14
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2answers
4k views

Why Aren't Saturn's Rings Clumping into Moons?

While reading with my son about how a Mars-like planet collided with the early Earth that resulted in our current moon, it said the initial debris also formed a ring, but that ring ended up getting ...
13
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1answer
632 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
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3answers
3k 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 ...
2
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2answers
2k views

Where do planets get energy to revolve around sun? [duplicate]

We know that every planet in our solar system revolve's around the sun in a particular orbit. But were to they get the energy to revolve around the sun. And why do they not drop into the sun there is ...
24
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1answer
748 views

Causes of hexagonal shape of Saturn's jet stream

NASA has just shown a more detailed picture of the hexagonal vortex/storm on Saturn: http://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-releases-images-saturns-hexagon-mega-storm-may-have-been-swirling-centuries-1496218 ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

What would happen if I were to fall into a massive hollow planet?

Imagine, if you will, there exists somewhere out there a supermassive planet. For some reason, this planet is only a shell of its former existence and all that is left is a crust of substantial size ...
10
votes
4answers
907 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

How do we determine what distant planets, stars etc are made of?

I remember this being covered somewhat back in school and I have casually read about it. I know it involves inferring from spectral analysis what physical properties an object may have right? Though ...
5
votes
3answers
742 views

Gravitational force of the Earth [duplicate]

Why does gravitational force of the Earth decrease as we move towards the centre of the Earth? Where as inverse square rule says that distance is less than gravitational force is more.
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Why does the Earth rotate? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why does every thing spin? So why would the Earth, or any planet for that matter, rotate along an axis? I know of no force which could come into play here, so i assume it ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

How to correct flares and sharply focus on my telescope when viewing planets.

A month or two ago I purchased a “Skywatcher Explorer 130P Newtonian Reflector” telescope - which so far is brilliant when looking at the Moon, esp. using a neutral density filter. However, when ...
2
votes
1answer
389 views

Why do Uranus and Venus rotate from East to west?

Why do only Uranus and Venus rotate from East to west, while others rotate in opposite direction? Is it because of the angle of their tiltness? Or due to the process of their formation?
1
vote
1answer
174 views

Why are tidal forces pointing away from the Moon? [duplicate]

I am currently reading The Science of Insterstellar, which explains most things very well, but some things leave me confuzzled, which I hope to get answers to here. I am no physicist, but highly ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What would be the rate of acceleration from gravity in a hollow sphere?

Lets say the Earth is hollow and you are in the center of it (Same mass except all of it is on the outside like a beach ball) If you move slightly to one side now your distance is closer to that side ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

How do you explain Kepler's third law in general terms without complex math?

I understand the first law-elliptical orbits, and the second-equal area in same time, but I need help with the third one. Note that I am not in an AP course or taking calculus at the moment so simple ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Binary Star system with one star stationary?

Can a Binary Star system be possible where in one star is stationary and the other star revolves around it? (Just like a planet revolving a star. i.e planets in the system and the star revolving ...
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
7k views

Why does the Moon or the Earth revolve anti-clockwise?

The question is very simple: Why does the Moon or the Earth or any another planet revolve anti-clockwise? And can any planet (or satellite) revolve clockwise? What is the physical law for this ...
1
vote
1answer
302 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
989 views

How deep is the Great Red Spot?

The Great Red Spot (GRS) is a very persistent storm system that's easily visible through a telescope on the surface of Jupiter. But what is the three-dimensional structure of the GRS, and how deep ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Falling into Saturn or Jupiter, would we pass through it until we hit the nucleus?

If we fall into Saturn or Jupiter, would we pass through it until we hit the nucleus? Or would we hit the surface and stop there?
7
votes
1answer
183 views

What coordinate system is used to describe planets positions in the universe?

How are planets positions described in the space and in respect to what? For example is Sun the origo and right now at this moment Earth has [coord_X, coord_Y, coord_Z]? or maybe [lng, lat]? Edit1:...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Are “broken” planets possible in the real world?

In the Star Wars universe, there are mentioned (or rather shown) two planets that had some kind of great explosion in their history. First is Peragus, with its exposed core, that partially exploded ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does Jupiter emit more energy than it receives?

I hear that Jupiter and Saturn emit more energy than they receive from the Sun. This excess energy is supposedly due to contraction. Is this accepted as fact (or is it controversial)? Does this ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the largest sphere of liquid water that could exist in space held together under it's own gravity? [duplicate]

What is the largest theoretical sphere of liquid water that could exist in space held together under it's own gravity? I've always wondered if a planet the size of earth could exist as a single volume ...
4
votes
1answer
4k views

Why are the orbits of the planets in our solar system along the same basic plane? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer? After watching this video I realized that the orbits of the planets in our solar system basically ...