Questions regarding an object 'falling around' another object, due to a combination of gravity and momentum.

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33
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6answers
2k views

Why is only one side of the Moon visible from Earth?

Why do we only ever see the same side of the moon? If this is to do with gravity are there any variables which mean we might one day see more than we have before?
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do the planets in our solar system orbit in the same plane?

(Yes I'm excluding Pluto from this the same way it was excluded for not being a planet) Observing the planets orbit of the Sun they all seem relatively planar and roughly all orbit along the same ...
2
votes
2answers
206 views

Is it possible that the Sun has a binary partner (the Nemesis Theory) that has eluded detection?

I just recently learned about the theory that our Sun has a small companion star with a 26 million year orbit. This theory came about when it was realized that mass extinction events happened ...
-1
votes
4answers
242 views

Does the Sun turn around a big star?

The moon turns around the Earth. The Earth turns around the Sun. Does the Sun turn around a big star? If so, does this big star turn around a very big star? ... etc ... What are all the intermediate ...
9
votes
5answers
230 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? ...
3
votes
1answer
175 views

Could a habitable satellite of a gas giant have a stable subsatellite?

I have set a science fiction story on a moon, orbiting a gas giant (which orbits its star at approximately the same orbit as the Earth around the Sun), and given this moon its own satellites. The ...
6
votes
1answer
696 views

Why is the solar system often shown as a 2D plane?

Whenever I have learned about the solar system I always see the orbits displayed as a virtually flat plane. Are all of the orbits in the solar system really like this? If so, why? It seems like a ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Pluto's orbit overlaps Neptune's, does this mean Pluto will hit Neptune sometime?

We know that the orbits of Pluto and Neptune overlap. This means that pluto sometimes crosses the orbit of Neptune; will Pluto hit Neptune in any circumstance?
11
votes
1answer
241 views

How stable are Lissajous orbits?

Now that the Gaia Space Telescope is on it's way to the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrangian point (SEL2), I start wondering about the stability of Gaia's orbit there. The Planck Telescope is already there, as was ...
13
votes
2answers
351 views

Is there a upper limit to the number of planets orbiting a star?

Our sun has 8 planets orbiting as well as a number of dwarf planets. Are there any calculations that hint as to whether this number is close to some theoretical maximum value or are we simply an ...
10
votes
2answers
352 views

Why is the Moon receding from the Earth due to tides? Is this typical for other moons?

After reading the Q&A Is the moon moving further away from Earth and closer to the Sun? Why? about the tides transferring energy to the Moon and pushing it from Earth, I have a question: How is ...
5
votes
3answers
147 views

Is there a ceiling for stable L4 or L5 masses?

L4 and L5, the Lagrange points 60 degrees leading and trailing an orbiting body, are famous for being stable. A well known example are the Trojan aseroids at the Sun Jupiter L4 and L5. Nodding to ...
4
votes
1answer
139 views

Where did this famous Planetary Precession Formula come from?

The following equation (which I shall term the Planetary Precession Formula, PPF for short) famously appeared in a 1915 publication by Einstein where he indicated how it could be derived from his ...
4
votes
2answers
406 views

How to plot orbit of binary star and calculate its orbital elements?

I have a set of dates, position angles ($\theta$) and angular separations ($\rho$) for visual binary star. For example: ...
7
votes
1answer
136 views

Is Earth's orbital eccentricity enough to cause even minor seasons, without axial tilt?

I was reading the answers to this question about an exoplanet having seasons without axial tilt, and several responders mention that orbital eccentricity could cause a similar effect, but that the ...
7
votes
5answers
339 views

The Existence of Natural Satellites in Geostationary Orbits

While browsing through Physics SE, I noticed a question about satellites in geostationary orbit (unrelated to the one I'm asking here), and for a moment I interpreted it as referring to natural ...
7
votes
1answer
384 views

Why does Pluto's Orbit underlap Neptune's Orbit

Why does Pluto's Orbit underlap inside of Neptunes Orbit. Clearly Neptunes Orbit is not overlapping on Pluto's. Yet, they fail to maintain the symmetric banding appearance all the other Planets ...
6
votes
3answers
313 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
511 views

When will all eight planets in our solar system align?

Ignoring expansion of the universe, entropy, decaying orbits, and interference from any bodies colliding with or otherwise interfering with their orbits, will the eight planets known planets in our ...
1
vote
1answer
120 views

Can General Relativity indicate phase-dependent variations in planetary orbital acceleration?

In a previous question about differences in Newtonian and GTR gravitional force for the case of star-planet gravitational interactions an approximate relationship was noted between the expressions for ...