Astrophysics (index)


(theory that mass attracts)

In physics, Gravity is the name given to a force that attracts masses together generally according to the product of their masses and the reciprocal of the square of the intervening distance. It was theorized by Isaac Newton who observed the force drawing objects toward Earth and that drawing planets toward the Sun and Moons toward planets could all be explained by a single law, according to his estimates of feasible masses of the Sun, planets, and moons. Newton posited it as universal, i.e., that in other situations masses would affect each other according to the same law, its effect between everyday objects being negligible because of their relatively tiny mass.

Albert Einstein recast the theory as space itself being sucked into each mass (General Relativity (GR)), calibrating his formula to virtually match Newton's excepting extreme circumstances, but with some consequences, such as Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) passing near a massive object being affected just as a passing object would be. The term Newtonian Gravity is used when it is necessary to distinguish it from GR.

These theories are phenomenally successful: for example, their reliability and precision has made space navigation as we know it possible, and the theorized bending of light has been observed. Yet they have failed to explain some observations:

  • Stars in galaxies do not orbit the galaxy in accordance to gravitational theory, given the apparent masses of the galaxies' constituent stars and clouds.
  • Gravity would make the universe accelerate inwardly (or given its current expansion, would make that expansion decelerate), but observations suggest it is doing the opposite.

Scientists have sufficient faith in gravitational theory that they cite it to assert galaxies must include matter that has yet to be seen (Dark Matter), and that there must be an as-yet-unexplained outward force at work in the universe (Dark Energy). Alternately, attempts have been made to further refine gravitational theory to explain these observations (Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) and DGP Gravity).


Referenced by:
Accretion Disk
Alcock-Paczyński Effect
Atmospheric Tide
Baryon Acoustic Oscillations (BAO)
Binary Star
Binding Energy
Birkhoff's Theorem
Black Hole (BH)
Cold Dark Matter (CDM)
Chandrasekhar Limit
Computational Astrophysics
Conic Section
Cosmological Constant (Λ)
Critical Density
Darcy Velocity Field
Dark Flow
Dark Matter
Dark Matter Halo
DGP Gravity
Doppler Shift
Einstein-De Sitter Model
Electron Degeneracy
Extra Solar Planet
Star Formation Feedback
Free-Fall Time
Galactic Halo
Galaxy Cluster (CL)
Giant Molecular Cloud (GMC)
General Relativity (GR)
Gravitational Instability Model
Gravity Sounding
Gravity Wave
Gravitational Wave (GW)
Hale Telescope
Hydrostatic Equilibrium
Internal Gravity Wave
Jeans Length
Kepler Radius
Lagrangian Point
Lambda-CDM model (ΛCDM)
Lane-Emden Equation
Liquid Mirror Telescope
Mirror Support Cell
Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND)
Multipole Expansion
N-Body Problem
Neutron Star
Orbital Resonance
Orbital Speed
Power Law
Redshift (z)
Reduced Mass
Roche Limit
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
Stellar Core
Stellar Mass Determination
Stellar Structure
Strong-Field Gravity
Tidal Force
Virial Parameter
Virial Theorem