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Questions tagged [orbital-mechanics]

The application of ballistics and celestial mechanics to the practical problems concerning the motion of rockets and other spacecraft.

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33
votes
3answers
531 views

If you lived on the far side of the Moon, how could you infer the existence of Earth?

Suppose that you deposit an astronomer, armed with our current knowledge of orbital mechanics, on a dome on the far side of the Moon, so that the Earth is perpetually hidden from them. (And, of ...
21
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5answers
7k views

Is Io a magic energy machine?

Io gets its volcanic heat from being flexed by Jupiter's gravity, and this seems to go on forever. That sounds like a magic energy source, since Jovian gravity is perpetual and Io seems to remain in ...
18
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4answers
8k views

Would an object shot from earth fall into the sun?

Would an object shot from earth fall into the sun? If an object is shot at 107,000 km/h via rocket or otherwise, in the opposite direction to our orbit about the sun, it will be traveling at 0 km/h ...
12
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2answers
498 views

How can tidal heating lower Io's orbit?

This answer to the question Is Io a magic energy machine? suggests that the energy from the internal heating of Io due to tidal "squishing" as it moves cyclically closer and farther from Jupiter in ...
11
votes
5answers
17k views

Is the Sun in our solar system moving or stationary?

When I was small, I read that Sun is fixed at the center of the solar system and that all the other planets rotate around it. But later I heard that even the Sun is not fixed; it moves. Is this true? ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Why does the Earth's orbital eccentricity oscillate with a period of about 100,000 years?

This answer says: Earth's orbital eccentricity varies over time from being nearly circular (low eccentricity of 0.0034) and mildly elliptical (high eccentricity of 0.058). It takes roughly 100,000 ...
11
votes
1answer
360 views

Are the Trappist-1 planets in stable orbits?

The Trappist-1 planets all orbit very close to each other. During NASA's press release, they mentioned that these planets are close enough to disturb each others orbits. Is this system stable over a ...
10
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2answers
96 views

How do we know that an exoplanet is tidally locked to the parent star?

Often in discussing exoplanets we hear that they are close to the parent star (usually a red dwarf) but then there's a caveat that the planet is tidally locked to that star and that that fact severely ...
10
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2answers
420 views

How do I know, mathematically rather than from observation, if a moon is full?

I know about the equations to describe the orbit of a moon around a planet. I know the moon's semi-major axis and eccentricity, and the same for its host world with the star they orbit. Is there any ...
9
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2answers
2k views

Why do certain moons have their rotational period equal to their orbital period?

Our moon and Saturn's moon, Titan, have this feature. Because of this we only observe one side (hemispere) of our moon. Why is this? What is the Newtonian or astrophysics that would explain this? ...
9
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1answer
290 views

Why is Neptune true anomaly decreasing?

So I've been having fun with trying to determine where the perihelia of different planets are (using JPL Horizons). And by the time I got to Saturn, something weird started happening. I've noticed ...
8
votes
1answer
339 views

What is the shape (along the plane, not up-down) of stellar orbits in flat spiral galaxies

What I mean is, with a central mass orbits are relatively simple, but orbits around the galaxy are different, in essence as the star orbits through the dark matter halo, the further it moves away from ...
8
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2answers
326 views

Eventual outcome of tidal acceleration and deceleration

So, I know the Moon experiences tidal acceleration from the Earth. And, from what I've read, if not for the fact that the sun would boil away the oceans and engulf both of them first, about 50 billion ...
8
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0answers
196 views

What are Kepler's laws (as he wrote them)?

There are of course many, many sources that quote Kepler's laws of planetary motion. This is preventing me from finding out what I really want to know: which is - what are Kepler's laws as he wrote ...
7
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2answers
170 views

How long is a “lunar month” in Jupiter?

For Earth, the lunar month is well known. But Earth has only one moon. But on Jupiter, how long does it takes for the same moon configuration to appear in the "sky" of the planet? For the sake of ...
6
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1answer
1k views

Can a bullet be fired on the moon and sent it into orbit?

I know you need oxygen for the ignition, but presumably, if the bullet is impervious (or water-tight) and if there is a little air enclosed in the bullet case, wouldn't that be sufficient to fire it ? ...
6
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1answer
595 views

Why isn't Earth tidally locked to the sun?

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?
6
votes
2answers
121 views

horseshoe orbits

I'm designing a moon system for a fictional setting, and recently came across the idea of horseshoe orbits. The gist of my question is how many objects can share a horseshoe orbital at a time? I ...
6
votes
2answers
218 views

How can Earth-Sun Lagrange points L1 & L2 even be semi stable considering the moon?

I know that the Earth-Sun Lagrange L1, L2, and L3 points are not considered stable over longer periods, especially when compared to L4 and L5... But, with the moon orbiting the Earth in the general ...
5
votes
3answers
756 views

Calculate Earth's distance travelled in a year

This is probably more of a math question than astronomy, but I'd like to know the distance the Earth travels in one revolution around the sun (i.e. a year). According to the data in Wikipedia, I ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

What defines a stable orbit?

While looking for a way to prolong an orbit via moon power I was faced with the parameters of what would be a stable orbit by length of time an object stayed in orbit, What is the definition of a ...
5
votes
2answers
489 views

How do tadpole, horseshoe co-orbital states arise and how are they stable?

A recent paper in Nature "Planetary science: Reckless orbiting in the Solar System" (Morais & Namouni, 2017) presents the following series of four co-orbital states: While I understand the ...
5
votes
2answers
152 views

What variables are needed to calculate simple horseshoe orbit times?

EDIT This was NOT a duplicate of Horseshoe orbit cycle times. But that other question has been deleted, regardless. My original question asked for the answer to the equation(s), and provides many of ...
5
votes
1answer
152 views

Can Eight Retrograde (seen from Earth) planets occur?

First of all, for the purposes of this question Pluto is a planet. So the eight planets being considered are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. My question is: can all ...
5
votes
1answer
184 views

What stabilizes rings or accretion disks?

We think, more or less, that our Moon was formed from an accretion disk caused by a Mars-sized impactor. Cool. Tidal forces can break apart a moon, causing rings. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: the ...
5
votes
1answer
54 views

How far from the Sun can an Earth TCO (temporarily captured orbiter) go after leaving?

Objects which are temporarily captured into an Earth-Moon system orbit (temporarily captured orbiters or TCOs) by definition will leave this orbit. While the term suggest an Earth orbit, it's really ...
5
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0answers
192 views

When the Moon formed and early on, did it orbit over the Earth's equator?

Or was it always at about 5.14 degrees inclination or has the inclination changed over time? See diagram. James K's answer to this question got me thinking about this, and I don't mean to call him ...
4
votes
1answer
293 views

Orbits using Newtons laws

I am making a small orbit simulator. I figured out Kepler's laws and know how to work with them to "update" an orbit based on time. So now I want to know how I can describe orbits with newton laws. ...
4
votes
1answer
183 views

Are the orbits of all triple star systems at least technically unstable?

Background: In the Circular Restricted Three Body Problem (CR3BP, CRTBP) some halo orbits are mathematically stable. That means that the orbit of the third body is closed, periodic, and stable ...
4
votes
1answer
117 views

How do a planet's moons and a planet's rings interact?

I am making a video game which features a planet and its moon. And I thought I would add rings too. But that got me wondering... how do a planet's moon and a planet's ring influence each other? Does ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

Would two Earth-like planets on opposite sides of a Sol-like star at about 1 AU be a stable configuration?

Would two Earth-like planets on opposite sides of a Sol-like star at about 1 AU be a relatively stable configuration? I understand that there are tadpole-like orbits and the two planets may not stay ...
4
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1answer
124 views

Calculating obital velocity from radial velocity

I'm not really a physicist so I don't know if it's possible to get the real orbital velocity of a star from its radial velocity. I'm working on a paper for school and I want to get the mean velocity ...
4
votes
2answers
120 views

Can a solar system exist where the second planet rotates fast, and the third planet is tidally locked to their star?

Today I read about the Romulan home star system and it looks like it might be impossible for such a star system to exist. Memory Alpha describes Remus: Remus was tidally locked, with one ...
4
votes
1answer
224 views

How much are Neptune's and Uranus' orbits perturbed by Pluto and other KBOs?

Reading another question, I came across the argument that inconsistencies in Neptune's and Uranus' orbits lead to the discovery of Pluto. This brief write-up mentions Percival Lowell and William H. ...
4
votes
1answer
197 views

Will Gaia detect inactive neutron stars?

Will the astrometric precision of the Gaia space telescope be able to detect the gravitational influence of cold old solitary neutron stars on the movements of stars? At least in a statistical sense ...
4
votes
1answer
419 views

Effects of the solar tide on planets

It’s well known that (lunar) tides on Earth result in a transfer of angular momentum from Earth proper to the Earth–Moon orbital motion. That’s why the Moon resides now in a high Earth orbit, and ...
4
votes
1answer
89 views

What is the force that changes a satellite’s inclination when orbiting a planet with an equatorial bulge

I tried looking this up without success and I imagine there's a formula for it, with some ridiculous numbers like it drops off to the 5th power of the distance or maybe even more. Imagine a planet ...
4
votes
1answer
99 views

snapshot of solar system

I am working on a little project where I want to simulate the solar system to teach myself working with python and OOP. I want to calculate the orbits "real", from tangential velocities and ...
4
votes
1answer
904 views

What effect does time dilation have on bodies orbiting close to Black Holes?

As far as my (somewhat basic) knowledge of astrophysics goes in general the closer to a star your orbit gets smaller (because you travel less distance) and faster (because you're deeper in the gravity ...
4
votes
0answers
80 views

How does the orbit of a 2-body system evolve as it orbits a more massive 3rd body?

I have been reading up on how multiplicity of star systems decline with star mass, which implies a relatively common occurrence of binary star systems orbiting more massive stars. I would imagine this ...
4
votes
0answers
50 views

Expansion of Jupiter's perturbing effects on Kepler's third law treatment of orbits?

Does anyone know any good reference for how this was done? I remember reading once about how Jupiter's gravitation can be treated as a perturbation, but I cannot find it again now. I think they ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Can one approximate the semi-major axis of an orbit as the average orbital distance for eccentric orbits?

Kepler's 3rd Law (regarding the relation between orbital period and the semi-major axis of an orbit) applies to all elliptical orbits. But as I understand it, the only reason it is safe to use the ...
3
votes
2answers
114 views

How was this interstellar fireball observed and its trajectory analyzed?

The short, interesting paper Discovery of a Meteor of Interstellar Origin describes a proposed discovery of a second interstellar object. This one hit the Earth, and was discovered not by telescope, ...
3
votes
1answer
247 views

Can the Moon provide momentum to an object in Earth's orbit? Gravity Assisted Boost [closed]

Can a satellite maintain an equatorial orbit around Earth near the Moon's orbit to receive partial gravitational boosts by gaining momentum as the satellite passes though the Moon's gravity well? I'...
3
votes
3answers
774 views

Inverse of the sunrise equation - finding locations with a given sunrise time on a given day

I'm working on a project for fun where I represent some sleep data geographically. For a given day, I have a date, a time for falling asleep that night, and a time for waking up the next day. The idea ...
3
votes
1answer
96 views

Propagate Earth trajectory for 1 Myr

What is the most accurate way of propagation of Earth trajectory relatively to the Sun? I need to calculate the Earth-Sun distance. Is there any library on Python? I've used before JPL Horizons, ...
3
votes
1answer
57 views

What kind of effects can maintain Uranus' rings' eccentricities?

The recent paper Thermal Emission from the Uranian Ring System has been in the news recently. The introduction mentions: The ε ring, the brightest and most massive of the narrow rings, was shown to ...
3
votes
2answers
95 views

How to calculate the argument of perihelion for exoplanets with incomplete orbital elements?

I'm trying to simulate the Kepler-444 exoplanetary system using data from this website. The problem is that there is no argument of periapsis parameter for the Kepler-444 system, so while I think I'm ...
3
votes
1answer
95 views

Maximum distance for earth eclipse

First of all sorry if this question was already asked, but I made a small search here and on google and I couldn't find any answer, so.. Here I am. I was reading NASA's webpage about the Webb ...
3
votes
1answer
139 views

Have any co-orbital exoplanet pairs been discovered (and not subsequently retracted)?

For this question, I think a good working definition of co-orbital configuration would be two bodies orbiting around a third much larger body in a 1:1 resonance and where neither mass is negligible. ...