Questions regarding the attractive force which exists between any two bodies of matter.

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21
votes
4answers
10k views

What's the fastest moving object in the universe?

We know that nothing can have proper velocities larger than the speed of light in vacuum. But are there any objects in space that get close to it? Any comets, or other objects thrown by gravity or ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Do all the objects in the universe exert force on all other objects?

Do all the objects in the universe exert force on all other objects? Like a type of gravity; also, how much does it decrease as it gets farther away?
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Doesn't gravity attract objects in space until they collide?

If the formula to calculate the force of gravity between two objects is: $$F = GM_1M_2/r^2,$$ why do planets stay in orbit? Or is there another formula at work?
14
votes
3answers
502 views

Will Saturn's rings become a moon?

Planets form from disks of matter orbiting around a star; some moons form from disks of matter orbiting planets. If this were going to happen around Saturn, approximately how much time would it take?
14
votes
3answers
561 views

How do we know that the speed of the influence of gravity is instant?

When I was in college, I posed to my astronomy professor a thought experiment that had been puzzling my mind for some time: "If the sun magically disappeared, instantly, along with all its influences, ...
14
votes
3answers
924 views

Does a planet's mass or gravity affect the height of it's mountains?

According to this Wikipedia page, the top five highest mountains on Mars (and the highest on Venus) are all taller than Mount Everest (and Mauna Kea as measured from the ocean floor). Does a planet's ...
13
votes
4answers
458 views

What is Gravitational Lensing?

What is the effect known as gravitational lensing? How does it work? What objects would be able to cause this effect?
13
votes
4answers
4k views

Is Jupiter made entirely out of gas?

I heard that Jupiter is made out of gas. But in school I learned that Jupiter has gravity which is 2.5 times that of Earth (Gravity that can tear apart a comet) and gravity is proportional to mass. ...
13
votes
1answer
4k views

Is the moon moving further away from Earth and closer to the Sun? Why?

According to The NASA Moon Facts page: The moon is actually moving away from earth at a rate of 1.5 inches per year. Why is the moon moving further away from the Earth? Is this a result of the ...
11
votes
4answers
9k views

What is the difference between our time and space time?

I am trying to understand the phenomenon of space-time. But, everything on internet seems to be too complicated for me since I do not have a background in physics. Can anyone give me simple ...
11
votes
1answer
250 views

Parking a telescope at a Lagrange point: is this a good idea from a debris point of view?

The James Webb space telescope is supposed to be located at the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point. Do we expect the region around that point to have a higher concentration of space debris, asteroids, ...
10
votes
1answer
343 views

Determining effect of small variable force on planetary perihelion precession

Is there an analytical technique for determining the effect of a small variable transverse acceleration upon the rate of aspides precession (strictly not a precession but rotation of the line of ...
9
votes
2answers
449 views

What was the length of year 1 million years back?

We know that the universe is gradually expanding and this indirectly means that the gravitational force between sun, earth, planets and other stars (roughly anything in the universe) is gradually ...
9
votes
5answers
254 views

Orbiting around a black hole

Is it possible (for either a satellite or a planet) to orbit around a black hole? Do they attract everything around themselves into the center? Or they just affect gravitational force just like stars? ...
9
votes
3answers
687 views

How does a gravity slingshot actually work?

From what I know of elliptical orbits, an object speeds up near the periapsis and slows down at the apoapsis, much like we learned in high school physics how a sphere would roll down and back up a ...
9
votes
2answers
616 views

Why haven't Earth and Venus got any tiny moons? Or have they?

Why haven't some meteoroids gotten caught in Earth's or Venus' orbit? AFAIK most meteors are tiny fragments from comets. Shouldn't some comet tail sometime have passed Earth orbit at velocities ...
9
votes
1answer
216 views

Is it safer to be near a star or a black hole?

If a star or black hole neared the solar system, which would do the least damage? For the sake of a good comparison, lets assume the candidate star is an "average" 5 solar mass star, and the black ...
9
votes
1answer
182 views

How can astronomers determine the difference between “hydrostatic equilibrium” and “just happens to be spherical”?

This is relevant for the definition of a dwarf planet. I presume the answer will be, well, if we can tell the mass of the body and guess the material. I don't find this very satisfactory because ...
8
votes
5answers
304 views

Using the Sun as a Gravitational Lens

Can the Sun be used as a gravitational lens to achieve better telescopic viewing? Can this effect be practically used to view celestial objects?
8
votes
1answer
201 views

Dark Flow: statistical limits on existence

Dark Flow has been thrown around as a term a lot lately, especially with the latest Planck results. New Scientist reported last year that it was now statistically improbable, but the paper by Atrio ...
7
votes
4answers
191 views

Do asteroids have a gravitational field?

I know that asteroids are huge chunks of rock, orbiting a solar system. Do asteroids have a gravitational field and do they gravitationally attract each other to form planets?
7
votes
3answers
448 views

Can you explain the pattern of Hill sphere sizes of the objects of the Solar system?

I found this image on calculations of Hill sphere for planets/dwarf planets of the Solar system. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hill_sphere_of_the_planets.png I found it interesting that ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Does the gravity of the planets affect the orbit of other planets in our solar system?

When one planet passes near another during its trip around the sun, does their gravitational pull is strong enough to disrupt noticeably each other's orbit ?
7
votes
1answer
632 views

How much mass does an object in space need to keep a human on its surface?

Assume there were a roughly spherical object in space like a meteorite or a comet. If I weighed 80kg on Earth, how much mass would be required for an object in space so that I could stay on its ...
7
votes
1answer
132 views

Are there any alternative explanations for the gravitational force we attribute to dark matter?

It always seemed counter-intuitive to me that we observed an measured a gravitational force and since the universe has not enough mass to account for it, the conclusion was to say there's a different ...
7
votes
2answers
115 views

Lack of objects between heliopause and Oort cloud?

If we take a look at a logarithmic scale of the Solar System, there appears to be a large gap between the heliopause and the Oort cloud: Why is that? There are some objects in the gap, but why are ...
7
votes
1answer
227 views

How does gravity affect the wavelength of light?

If, hypothetically, me and my rocket powered flashlight were falling straight toward the center of a black hole. The flashlight is a few kilometers behind me in our travels toward the center of the ...
6
votes
3answers
294 views

Could there be dark matter black holes?

Could dark matter compress and form black holes? Since dark matter is even more abundant than normal matter, a dark matter black hole should not be rare...right?
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Will Earth lose the Moon before the Sun goes into supernova?

Ive read on some sites and saw on youtube videos that the moon is getting away from earth by 1-3 cm a year. Is this enough to make the Earth lose the Moon before the Sun goes into Supernova? Im ...
6
votes
1answer
151 views

How was the hypothetical ninth planet kicked so far out of the Solar System?

I was reading this article on science news and ran into the following statement: Such a remote super-Earth probably originated closer to the sun only to be kicked out by the other giant planets ...
6
votes
3answers
298 views

How does light affect the universe?

When light is emitted by for example a star, that star loses energy - which causes it to reduce its gravity. Then that energy begins a journey for potentially billions of years, until it reaches some ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Exercise: 2D orbital mechanics simulation (python)

Just a little disclaimer beforehand: I have never studied astronomy or any exact sciences for that matter (not even IT), so I am trying to fill this gap by self-education. Astronomy is one of the ...
6
votes
1answer
498 views

What is the difference between Sphere of Influence and Hill sphere?

Wikipedia's definition of Hill sphere is: An astronomical body's Hill sphere is the region in which it dominates the attraction of satellites. To be retained by a planet, a moon must have an orbit ...
6
votes
2answers
198 views

Why do we have the cosmological constant?

Since the cosmological constant is not required to explain that the universe seem to be expanding, why do we have it? What other factors cause us to have that constant? Background: Without the ...
5
votes
3answers
371 views

Does gravity slow or speed light up?

The speed of light in a vacuum is presumably the fastest speed possible. if gravity bends the course of light, does this imply that gravity the retards light so it is moving at a slower speed? If ...
5
votes
1answer
218 views

How can Halley's Comet be predictable?

How can we know that Halley's Comet is going to come again every 76 years? I understand that the comet has an orbit around the sun but how can scientists know that it won't be thrown off course for ...
5
votes
6answers
445 views

Why isn't the star that created the black hole a black hole?

If the mass of a black hole is creating so much gravity that light cannot escape, why isn't the mass of the star that created the black hole (before it went supernova) trapping light as well? By all ...
5
votes
1answer
80 views

Do planets migrate suddenly or gradually?

Current models of the configurations of the planets conclude that Neptune once migrated outwards. AFAIK this refurbishment came about by Jupiter and Saturn gradually getting into and leaving a ...
5
votes
2answers
160 views

Has someone looked the other way?

I learned that gravity always pulls, it is always attractive. There is no antigravity, no "negative" mass. I also learned that most matter is dark, invisible. We know that because we see visible ...
5
votes
1answer
337 views

How long until the Earth and Moon become a binary planet?

With the rate at which the moon is further receding into a higher orbit, how long until the barycentre between us and the moon leaves the earth, and going by the IAUs 2006 definition update, we become ...
5
votes
1answer
130 views

What is the optimal escape trajectory from near a black hole?

Consider a space ship that is being drawn closer to a black hole. The crew begins to notice the effects, and discovers that they are nearing the black hole. They then manage to halt their ...
5
votes
2answers
539 views

What would happen if a body were to fall into a neutron star?

We know neutron stars as a very massive object with extremely strong gravitational forces that composes mostly of neutrons. I couldn't help but wonder, what would happen if an object fell into a ...
5
votes
2answers
788 views

What is the minimum mass required so that objects become spherical due to its own gravity?

Is this minimum mass known? or maybe, is it given in terms of density? If so, how much density is the minimum to have an spherical object due to its own gravity?
5
votes
2answers
27 views

Precision of geocentric gravitational constant

I am looking for an answer as to why the geocentric gravitational constant, μ, defined as the product of the gravitational constant, G, and the mass of a body (earth in this case), M, can be ...
5
votes
1answer
166 views

Wouldn't the rings of Saturn experience tidal effect?

The "Lord of the Rings" has more than 60 moons, some of which are larger than Mercury. My question is, wouldn't the ring, which is mostly comprised of rocks, experience tidal effect whenever a moon is ...
5
votes
1answer
185 views

Lack of planets in the Oort Cloud

With the current news about the possibility of a planet in the Oort cloud, I was thinking, why is the matter in the Oort cloud distributed so? It makes sense that inside the planet region there is not ...
5
votes
1answer
144 views

What Is The Great Attractor?

I've heard that there is something called the Great Attractor which seems to have some kind of gravitational influence on objects in the Universe. Is this some kind of theoretical notion posited in ...
5
votes
2answers
171 views

Tide on the Moon

If the Earth's Moon had a water ocean of depth 2-4 Km, how high would the tides rise due to the Earth's gravity? (Just a hypothetical question.)
4
votes
3answers
244 views

Is a black hole a perfect sphere?

I know all about how black holes form and why their gravity is so strong. However, is the gravity equally powerful in all directions? Will the event horizon appear as a perfect sphere?
4
votes
3answers
538 views

Why doesn't the sun pull the moon away from earth?

If the suns gravitational pull is strong enough to hold much larger masses in place (all the planets) and at much greater distances (all planets further away from the sun then earth) why does it not ...