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The

 Solar  System
AST  103  -­‐  Fall  2010

Lecture 06 - Gravity, Einstein and Relativity


Newton’s Second Law

F
a= or F = ma
m
Newton’s version of Kepler’s Third Law:

4 π 2
p =
2
a 3

G ( M1 + M 2 )
Since the mass of the Sun is so much greater
than the planets, we can simplify the equation:

4 π 2
p ≈
2
a 3

GM Sun
We can use observations of planetary motion
and the above equation to measure the mass of
the Sun.
pEarth = 1 year = 3.156 × 10 seconds
7

aEarth = 1 AU = 1.496 × 10 meters


11

−11 −1 −2
G = 6.67 × 10 3
m kg s

4π a 2 3
M Sun ≈ Earth
2
≈ 1.99 × 10 kg
30

G p Earth
Summary
1. Examples using the Law of Universal Gravitation
2. Orbits and the Center of Mass

The Theory of Relativity


3.The Principle of Equivalence
4. Curved Space
5. Tests of Relativity
6. The Correspondence Principle
Motion in a Circle
• Motion of an object in a circle is an example of
acceleration causing a change in direction.

• Centripetal, or “center-seeking” force is the force


directed to the center of the curve along which an
object is moving.
Centripetal
Force

Direction
of motion
Examples using the Law of Universal Gravitation

1. Measuring the acceleration of the Moon


2
v
a= v = 1020 m/s
r a = 0.00027 m/s2

= 9.8 m/s2
602
Weight on different planets

1. If we were on a planet with twice the mass


of the earth, how would our weight be
different?

2. What if we were on a planet with the


same mass as the Earth, but double the
radius?

3. What if we were on a planet with twice


the radius and four times the mass as the
Earth?
Orbits and the Center of Mass

• Newton’s Law of Gravity tells us that masses exert


a force on each other...

• so one object does not orbit another “stationary”


object.

• Instead, both objects orbit around a common point


called the center of mass.

• Therefore the Moon does not orbit the Earth.


Instead, the Earth and Moon orbit a common
center of Mass.
Beyond Newton
Newton’s theory of gravity was the first to
successfully unite the motion of objects on Earth an
in space.

His ideas fit data, made predictions that can be


checked, and combined with other laws into a simple
unified theory we call “Newtonian Mechanics”.

It was able to explain more about the motion of


objects than Kepler’s laws because it was a more
fundamental theory.
The General Theory of Relativity

• There are some observations that Newton’s Laws


cannot explain.

• One example is that the inertial mass and


gravitational mass appear to be identical quantities.

• This led Albert Einstein to develop his general


theory of relativity in the early 20th century.
The Principle of Equivalence
The Principle of Equivalence
The principle of equivalence

“There is no experiment that can be done which


can distinguish between motion due to acceleration
and an equivalent motion due to gravity.”

"we [...] assume the complete physical equivalence of


a gravitational field and a corresponding acceleration
of the reference system." (Einstein 1907)

An observer in a windowless room cannot distinguish


between being on the surface of the Earth, and being
in a spaceship in deep space accelerating at 9.8m/s2).
Curved Space
Mass curves space, which distorts the motion of objects.

C: Circular Orbit
E: Elliptical Orbit
U: Unbound Orbit
• For Einstein, as objects move they follow the
curvature of space created by the presence of
mass.

• “Matter tells space how to curve, and space


curvature tells matter how to move.”

• This view differs from Newton’s attractive


gravitational force between objects.

• What we perceive as the force of gravity is


instead a result of our being unable to follow a
path through curved space, because of the
mechanical resistance of the Earth.
Testing the theory of relativity
• The many tests of the theory of relativity shows that it provides
a better description of gravity than Newton’s theory.

Test 1

The general theory predicts that light will curve in


the presence of a massive object.
This prediction, made in 1915, was first confirmed
during a solar eclipse in 1919.

1. 2.

Apparent
position
Actual
position
Test 2: The Orbit of Mercury

The orbit of Mercury precesses, which means


its orientation in space changes over time.
• The total precession is 574 arcseconds per century.
• 531 arcseconds explained by the influence of the
other planets, particularly Venus and Jupiter.
• 43 arcseconds was unexplained by Newton’s theory
of gravity.

• One hypothesis predicted the presence of


another planet closer to the Sun called Vulcan,
which perturbed Mercury’s orbit.

• This planet was never found.


• Einstein applied his theory of relativity to the problem.
• The 43 arcseconds of Mercury’s precession could be
explained by curvature of space caused by the Sun.

Describing this discovery, Einstein wrote:


“...for a few days I was beside myself with joyous
excitement.”
Test 3: Time Dilation

• Synchronize two highly accurate clocks


• Fly one around the Earth and compare them again
There are two opposing effects of relativity that
cause the clocks to no longer be synchronized

1. The clock on the plane ran slower because it


travelled faster than the one left on the ground.

2. But the clock on the plane also ran faster, because


it was in a weaker gravitational field.

The effect of altitude was stronger than that of


speed, so the clock on the plane was faster
compared to the one left on the ground.
Test 4: Gravitational Waves

• The theory of relativity predicts that large moving


masses will cause ripples in space called gravitational
waves.

• The observation of two massive stars orbiting each


other apeared to confirm this theory.

• The orbits of the stars decayed by the amount


predicted by the loss of energy as gravitational
waves.
The Correspondence Principle

• The predictions of a new theory must agree with the


theory it replaces in cases where the previous theory
has been found to be correct.

• The general theory of relativity agrees with


Newtonian mechanics where the old theory provided
correct results.

• All test of Einstein’s relativity so far have confirmed


it, but Newton’s theory is still often used for
convenience.
Summary
1. Examples using the Law of Universal Gravitation
2. Orbits and the Center of Mass

The Theory of Relativity


3.The Principle of Equivalence
4. Curved Space
5. Tests of Relativity
6. The Correspondence Principle