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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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 ...
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Why are these objects moving at Vastly Different Speeds along the same orbit?

UPDATE: The on-line simulation seems to be working beautifully now! I'd recommend anyone to go back and take another look to enjoy both the mathematical beauty of orbital mechanics, and the aesthetics ...
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Just how "locked" are resonant-chains of exoplanets thought to be? (e.g. K2-138 and TOI-178)

update 2: A&A: Six transiting planets and a chain of Laplace resonances in TOI-178 (and arXiv) Gizmodo: Enigmatic Star System Has 5 Planets Locked in Perfect Harmony Bad Astronomy A Six-Planet ...
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How to calculate the position of a meteor shower's radiant point based on its associated comet's orbit?

Below this answer to Why are Delta Aquariids “for the southern hemisphere” while the Perseids are “for the north”? I wrote the comment: +1 To make this complete, ...
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What are "non-Keplerian" orbits? What are some familiar examples in our solar system, and can some still be closed?

This excellent answer to Forms of stellar orbits around the galactic center invokes the following concepts: non-Keplerian orbits closed orbits I have a fairly good idea what these mean and so might ...
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Why do particles from a comet that result in meteor showers spread out mostly along the comet's orbit?

My understanding of the meteor showers that repeat yearly is that the Earth passes through the orbit of a comet that is nowhere near us, and might not even exist anymore, yet it's orbit is filled with ...
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Why is there no concavity in the orbit of the moon around the Sun?

Such questions have been asked here and I have read the answers some of which are quite informative. However, I want an answer that's straightforward. I have gone through the following paper by A B ...
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Why is the Moon's orbit so complicated?

I like to think I have a good enough understanding of astrophysics but there's still one thing that I just can't explain. Why does the Moon orbit the Earth the way it does? Many other moons in the ...
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Orbital path projections onto a 2D plane

In ProfRob's excellent answer to Is S2 still the fastest known star in the galaxy?, he posted a figure of the orbital paths of stars passing close to the supermassive black hole near the center of the ...
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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 ...
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Can the paper narrowing Solar System's barycentre to within 100m help find Planet Nine?

I've just read this recent news article, Astronomers Have Located The Centre of The Solar System to Within 100 Metres, reporting on a paper[1] that claims narrowing the Solar System barycentre to ...
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Is S2 still the fastest known star in the galaxy?

Wikipedia's entry for the star S2 says that it has the fastest known ballistic orbit, reaching speeds exceeding 5,000 km/s (11,000,000 mph, or ​1⁄60 the speed of light) and acceleration of about 1.5 ...
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Why does the closest approach of star S2 to Sgr A* not appear to be near the focus of its elliptical orbit?

Phys.org's Very Large Telescope sees star dance around supermassive black hole, proves Einstein right links to several ESO videos, including The star S2 makes a close approach to the black hole at the ...
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Why are asteroids with zero orbital inclination rare?

This is a plot of orbital inclination ($i_p$) vs. semi-major axis ($a_p$) of 96944 asteroids in the Main Belt, done by Piotr Deuar. Some structure can be seen in this diagram; clumps are asteroidal ...
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1:1 resonance of two planets around a star in close proximity - approximate perturbative mathematical treatments?

This question is primarily about the mathematics of orbital mechanics. The circular restricted 3 body problem (in 3 dimensions) assumes two massive bodies in circular orbits around their center of ...
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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. ...
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How to find Greenwich Mean Sideral Time?

I'm writing a program that converts position in the ECI (CIS, EPOCH JD2000.0) coordinate system to WGS 84 (CTS, ECEF) coordinates. To do so, I'm following what's described in this document and ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Origins and most frequently used; perinigricon vs peribothron?

Gizmodo.com's Astronomers Spot Unprecedented Flashes From Our Galaxy's Black Hole mentions Sgr A*'s companion gas cloud G2 and that Wikipedia article uses the term perinigricon, but that mentions ...
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Are there any stars that orbit perpendicular to the Milky Way's galactic plane?

Most stars orbit in the Milky Way's galactic disc. But is it possible for one to orbit perpendicular to it? Here on Earth since we're inside the galactic plane we can't get a good view of what the ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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"Periapsis" or "Periastron"?

I was taught from Bate Mueller and White, that the proper terms for the closest and furthest points and distances from a body in orbit around another unspecified body are "periapsis" and &...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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What calculations show that Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 orbited Jupiter for several decades before its spectacular impact? (Chodas, Sekanina & Yeomans)

This answer to A moon in eccentric orbit dipping below Roche limit includes the following about Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 Here is a nice figure of its last passes: I looked up "fragment A" in ...
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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 ...
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Are there any bodies in the solar system whose rotation is almost tidally locked or barely tidally locked?

The Moon's rotation is firmly tidally locked to the Earth and the Earth's rotation is firmly tidally unlocked with respect to the Moon. I gather that Mercury's rotation is tidally locked in a 3:2 ...
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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'...
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Rendering asteroid orientation as seen from Earth

I am writing a program to render an asteroid as seen from various parts of the solar system. My goal is to roughly reproduce the image of Cacus according to information on its DAMIT detail page. ...
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What natural mechanisms could lead to the unlikely case of the same rogue asteroid or planet passing through our solar system twice?

I find he following answer to the question What's the soonest Oumuamua could return? unsatisfying and oversimplifying and the last five words "Therefore it will never return." unsupported at a minimum....
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What kind of triangle is formed by three unequal masses in a circular restricted three body orbit?

This answer to Are the orbits of all triple star systems at least technically unstable? mentions: There are known solutions to the gravitational three body problem that can be shown to be stable. ...
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Calculation of Eccentricity of orbit from velocity and radius

For a school project I am making a gravitational computer model. As I want to Milankovitch cycles, I need to calculate the eccentricity of an orbit after the model has completed its simulation. I ...
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If suddenly "knocked" or perturbed from its orbit, would gravity eventually return the Earth to its original orbit?

If suddenly "knocked" or perturbed from its orbit, would gravity eventually return the Earth to its original orbit? I am curious as to whether this is even possible. It seems to me that ...
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Does anything orbit the Sun faster than Mercury?

Mercury's orbital period around the Sun is about 88 days. Comets and other things have gotten closer to the Sun than Mercury does. But has there ever been an asteroid or some other body discovered ...
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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 ...
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Is the gravitational field of the sun uniform?

I understand that rocky bodies in the solar system all exhibit gravitational anomalies. Does the sun exhibit any gravitational anomalies? If so are they distinct enough that it effects the orbit of ...
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Could an orphan/rogue planet have a moon?

Is there some reason why an orphan or rogue planet wouldn't have a moon? Let's say it started out in a normal system and then just got flung out by an unstable orbit.
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When will Callisto be in orbital resonance with the rest of Jupiter's big moons?

The four Gallilean moons of Jupiter (from innermost) are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Io, Europa, and Ganymede are in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance. Callisto's orbital period is 16.689 days, which ...
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Callisto's orbit: circular vs JPL is periodic 4 degree error, why?

I am approximating the azimuthal angle of Callisto from Jupiter or the Jupiter+moons barycenter using a constant angular speed circular orbit. This differs from the JPL ephemerides by only about 4 ...
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How does the Sun's gravity have so much force and pull on the solar system? How does it scale?

Watched this video: https://fb.watch/1U0vCFBr0L/ Ok, so the distances are huge. And the sizes are much different. But I wonder how then the sun keeps the planets etc. orbiting it. If we swap out all ...
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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 ...
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Can we learn anything from the chaotic movement of Hydra and Nix?

The NASA Visualization Explorer Moons In Chaos says Hydra and Nix, two of the moons of Pluto, show chaotic movement due to the shifting gravitational field. How long a day lasts and where the sun ...
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Throwing a baseball from orbit to the earth

I just read a thought piece about what a war in space may look like, and it changed my thoughts on what orbit actually is. From what I read about orbits, it sounds like going faster in the velocity ...
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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, ...
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How much could Earth's orbit shift without causing an ecological catastrophe?

Seeing the news about A/2017 U1 made me wonder what would happen if a similar object, but with a mass close to Earth's, had a close call with Earth. Could it shift Earth's orbit enough to quickly and ...
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Could our Sun be the product of an ancient stellar collision?

The canonical model for the formation of the Solar System involves the gravitational collapse of a nebula into (perhaps) several stars across several light years. Is it possible that two or more of ...
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What is $\phi '$ in orbital mechanics?

For the last week or so, I have been teaching myself orbital mechanics within the context of Braeunig's Rocket and Space Technology. I noticed a symbol, $\phi '$, and was wondering what context that ...