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Given that the moon has long been tidally locked with the Earth, why isn't Earth (or any of our other solar system's planets) tidally locked to the sun?

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  • $\begingroup$ If it's slowed by 5-6 hours per day since the beginning, theres many billons of years till it stops. $\endgroup$ – com.prehensible May 21 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Mercury essentially is tidally locked to the Sun. While Mercury is not synchronously locked (in a 1:1 spin orbit resonance) to the Sun, it is nonetheless "locked", in a 3:2 spin orbit resonance. The high eccentricity of Mercury's orbit makes that 3:2 spin orbit resonance much more likely than a 1:1 resonance. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen May 22 at 22:21
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Really, it's just because the tidal locking timescale is so long for Earth: $$t\propto\frac{a^6m_{s}}{m_{p}^2R_s^3}$$ where $a$ is semi-major axis, $m_s$ is the mass of the secondary object, $m_p$ is the mass of the primary, and $R_s$ is the radius of the secondary. If we compare the Sun-Earth system to the Earth-Moon system, we see $$a_1/a_2\approx380,\quad m_{s_1}/m_{s_2}\approx80,\quad m_{p_1}/m_{p_2}\approx333000,\quad R_{s_1}/R_{s_2}\approx3.67$$ where $_1$ denotes the Sun-Earth system and $_2$ denotes the Earth-Moon system. To make up for these differences (and to have Earth be tidally locked by now), assuming similar Love numbers and dissipation functions for Earth and the Moon, we would need Earth's initial spin to be substantially smaller than the Moon's initial spin by many, many orders of magnitude, and this just wasn't the case.

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