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

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40
votes
6answers
3k 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?
3
votes
2answers
587 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
554 views

Why are orbits elliptical instead of circular?

Why do planets rotate around a star in a specific elliptical orbit with the star at one of it's foci? Why isn't the orbit a circle?
20
votes
3answers
2k 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?
8
votes
5answers
927 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
615 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
508 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
285 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?
5
votes
3answers
204 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
205 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
164 views

Best approximation for Sun's trajectory around galactic center?

What is the current best approximation for the path the Sun takes around the center of the Milky Way? I have found some information on the approximate position of the Milky Way's center, the speed of ...
4
votes
1answer
121 views

Simulate an orbit with orbital elements

I want to simulate the orbits of the planets from our solar system. I want to use orbital elements to calculate the current position(xyz) at a time t. The simulation doesn't have to be too exact, but ...
1
vote
4answers
319 views

Is it possible for a star to orbit a planet?

Is it possible for a red dwarf to orbit a gas giant? OR Has this happened and it is just assumed that the gas giant is orbiting the star?
13
votes
1answer
340 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
352 views

Orbits in a binary star system

I know of three sets of stable orbits in a binary star system: orbiting closely around star A, orbiting closely around star B, or orbiting distantly around both stars (and their mutual center of ...
6
votes
1answer
634 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
1answer
91 views

Orbital resonances and position of planets

I am interested in quick generation of planetary systems for programs similar to Space Engine or Pioneer Space Simulator. As far as I understand, formation of planets is a complex process and the ...
13
votes
2answers
527 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
167 views

How do I calculate the positions of objects in orbit?

In a model of the solar system, given the Sun is at the point $(0, 0, 0)$, an given the six orbital elements for each object in orbit ($a$, $\epsilon$, $i$, $\Omega$, $\omega$, $M_0$), how can I ...
4
votes
1answer
198 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
78 views

Stability of orbital resonance

Recently I've become more interested in the topic of the stability of planetary systems. I have been reading about it and it seems that orbital resonances play an important role in the stability of ...
3
votes
2answers
317 views

Orbiting supermassive black hole or galactic center of mass?

One of the ways they measure the (supposed?) supermassive black hole at the galactic center of the milky way is to measure those tens of stars right at the galactic center that are orbiting what ...
2
votes
1answer
154 views

Are there accurate equinox and solstice predictions for the distant past?

I am trying to find information on the equinox/solstice dates before 1600, more exactly referring up to 10,000 BCE so as to create a sort of calculator on an Excel spreadsheet. I have read about the ...
9
votes
1answer
464 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 ...
9
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 ?
8
votes
1answer
225 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
1answer
378 views

Does anyone know why three of Jupiter's largest moons orbit in 1:2:4 resonance?

Three of the first four moons ever discovered outside of our own planetary sphere of gravitational influence orbit in very close to perfect resonance. Europa's orbit is almost exactly twice as long as ...
7
votes
5answers
612 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
3answers
549 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
123 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 ...