In astronomy, Kepler's laws of planetary motion are three scientific laws describing the motion of planets around the Sun.
Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and phenomena and their evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets; the phenomena also includes supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, all phenomena that originate outside Earth's atmosphere are within the purview of astronomy. A branch of astronomy called cosmology is the study of the Universe as a whole.
Laws of science or scientific laws are statements that describe or predict a range of natural phenomena. A scientific law is a statement based on repeated experiments or observations that describe some aspect of the natural world. The term law has diverse usage in many cases across all fields of natural science. Laws are developed from data and can be further developed through mathematics; in all cases they are directly or indirectly based on empirical evidence. It is generally understood that they implicitly reflect, though they do not explicitly assert, causal relationships fundamental to reality, and are discovered rather than invented.
A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.
Most planetary orbits are nearly circular, and careful observation and calculation are required in order to establish that they are not perfectly circular. Calculations of the orbit of Marsindicated an elliptical orbit. From this, Johannes Kepler inferred that other bodies in the Solar System, including those farther away from the Sun, also have elliptical orbits.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars carries a name of the Roman god of war, and is often referred to as the "Red Planet" because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance that is distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth.
Johannes Kepler was a German astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer. He is a key figure in the 17th-century scientific revolution, best known for his laws of planetary motion, and his books Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae. These works also provided one of the foundations for Newton's theory of universal gravitation.
The Solar System is the gravitationally bound planetary system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly. Of the objects that orbit the Sun directly, the largest are the eight planets, with the remainder being smaller objects, such as the five dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Of the objects that orbit the Sun indirectly—the moons—two are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury.
Kepler's work (published between 1609 and 1619) improved the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus, explaining how the planets' speeds varied, and using elliptical orbits rather than circular orbits with epicycles.
Copernican heliocentrism is the name given to the astronomical model developed by Nicolaus Copernicus and published in 1543. It positioned the Sun near the center of the Universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets orbiting around it in circular paths modified by epicycles and at uniform speeds. The Copernican model displaced the geocentric model of Ptolemy that had prevailed for centuries, placing Earth at the center of the Universe. It is often regarded as the launching point to modern astronomy and the Scientific Revolution.
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer, who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe, in all likelihood independently of Aristarchus of Samos, who had formulated such a model some eighteen centuries earlier.
Isaac Newton showed in 1687 that relationships like Kepler's would apply in the Solar System to a good approximation, as a consequence of his own laws of motion and law of universal gravitation.
Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published in 1687, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.
Newton's laws of motion are three physical laws that, together, laid the foundation for classical mechanics. They describe the relationship between a body and the forces acting upon it, and its motion in response to those forces. More precisely, the first law defines the force qualitatively, the second law offers a quantitative measure of the force, and the third asserts that a single isolated force doesn't exist. These three laws have been expressed in several ways, over nearly three centuries, and can be summarised as follows:
Newton's law of universal gravitation states that every particle attracts every other particle in the universe with a force which is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers. This is a general physical law derived from empirical observations by what Isaac Newton called inductive reasoning. It is a part of classical mechanics and was formulated in Newton's work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published on 5 July 1687. When Newton presented Book 1 of the unpublished text in April 1686 to the Royal Society, Robert Hooke made a claim that Newton had obtained the inverse square law from him.
Kepler's laws improved the model of Copernicus. If the eccentricities of the planetary orbits are taken as zero, then Kepler basically agreed with Copernicus:
In mathematics, the eccentricity of a conic section is a non-negative real number that uniquely characterizes its shape.
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved trajectory of an object, such as the trajectory of a planet around a star or a natural satellite around a planet. Normally, orbit refers to a regularly repeating trajectory, although it may also refer to a non-repeating trajectory. To a close approximation, planets and satellites follow elliptic orbits, with the central mass being orbited at a focal point of the ellipse, as described by Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
The eccentricities of the orbits of those planets known to Copernicus and Kepler are small, so the foregoing rules give fair approximations of planetary motion, but Kepler's laws fit the observations better than does the model proposed by Copernicus.
Kepler's corrections are not at all obvious:
The eccentricity of the orbit of the Earth makes the time from the March equinox to the September equinox, around 186 days, unequal to the time from the September equinox to the March equinox, around 179 days. A diameter would cut the orbit into equal parts, but the plane through the Sun parallel to the equator of the Earth cuts the orbit into two parts with areas in a 186 to 179 ratio, so the eccentricity of the orbit of the Earth is approximately
The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the subsolar point appears to leave the Southern Hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from Earth. The March equinox is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and as the autumnal equinox in the Southern.
The September equinox is the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox can occur at any time from the 21st to the 24th day of September.
An equator of a rotating spheroid is its zeroth circle of latitude (parallel). It is the imaginary line on the spheroid, equidistant from its poles, dividing it into northern and southern hemispheres. In other words, it is the intersection of the spheroid with the plane perpendicular to its axis of rotation and midway between its geographical poles.
which is close to the correct value (0.016710219) (see Earth's orbit).
The calculation is correct when perihelion, the date the Earth is closest to the Sun, falls on a solstice. The current perihelion, near January 3, is fairly close to the solstice of December 21 or 22.
It took nearly two centuries for the current formulation of Kepler's work to take on its settled form. Voltaire's Eléments de la philosophie de Newton (Elements of Newton's Philosophy) of 1738 was the first publication to use the terminology of "laws". 620) states that the terminology of scientific laws for these discoveries was current at least from the time of Joseph de Lalande. It was the exposition of Robert Small, in An account of the astronomical discoveries of Kepler (1814) that made up the set of three laws, by adding in the third. Small also claimed, against the history, that these were empirical laws, based on inductive reasoning.The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers in its article on Kepler (p.
Further, the current usage of "Kepler's Second Law" is something of a misnomer. Kepler had two versions, related in a qualitative sense: the "distance law" and the "area law". The "area law" is what became the Second Law in the set of three; but Kepler did himself not privilege it in that way.
Johannes Kepler published his first two laws about planetary motion in 1609, having found them by analyzing the astronomical observations of Tycho Brahe.Kepler's third law was published in 1619. Kepler had believed in the Copernican model of the solar system, which called for circular orbits, but he could not reconcile Brahe's highly precise observations with a circular fit to Mars' orbit – Mars coincidentally having the highest eccentricity of all planets except Mercury. His first law reflected this discovery.
Kepler in 1621 and Godefroy Wendelin in 1643 noted that Kepler's third law applies to the four brightest moons of Jupiter.The second law, in the "area law" form, was contested by Nicolaus Mercator in a book from 1664, but by 1670 his Philosophical Transactions were in its favour. As the century proceeded it became more widely accepted. The reception in Germany changed noticeably between 1688, the year in which Newton's Principia was published and was taken to be basically Copernican, and 1690, by which time work of Gottfried Leibniz on Kepler had been published.
Newton was credited with understanding that the second law is not special to the inverse square law of gravitation, being a consequence just of the radial nature of that law; while the other laws do depend on the inverse square form of the attraction. Carl Runge and Wilhelm Lenz much later identified a symmetry principle in the phase space of planetary motion (the orthogonal group O(4) acting) which accounts for the first and third laws in the case of Newtonian gravitation, as conservation of angular momentum does via rotational symmetry for the second law.
The mathematical model of the kinematics of a planet subject to the laws allows a large range of further calculations.
The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci.
Mathematically, an ellipse can be represented by the formula:
where is the semi-latus rectum, ε is the eccentricity of the ellipse, r is the distance from the Sun to the planet, and θ is the angle to the planet's current position from its closest approach, as seen from the Sun. So (r, θ) are polar coordinates.
For an ellipse 0 < ε < 1 ; in the limiting case ε = 0, the orbit is a circle with the Sun at the centre (i.e. where there is zero eccentricity).
At θ = 0°, perihelion, the distance is minimum
At θ = 90° and at θ = 270° the distance is equal to .
At θ = 180°, aphelion, the distance is maximum (by definition, aphelion is – invariably – perihelion plus 180°)
The semi-major axis a is the arithmetic mean between rmin and rmax:
The semi-minor axis b is the geometric mean between rmin and rmax:
The semi-latus rectum p is the harmonic mean between rmin and rmax:
The eccentricity ε is the coefficient of variation between rmin and rmax:
The area of the ellipse is
The special case of a circle is ε = 0, resulting in r = p = rmin = rmax = a = b and A = πr2.
A line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.
The orbital radius and angular velocity of the planet in the elliptical orbit will vary. This is shown in the animation: the planet travels faster when closer to the Sun, then slower when farther from the Sun. Kepler's second law states that the blue sector has constant area.
In a small time the planet sweeps out a small triangle having base line and height and area and so the constant areal velocity is
The area enclosed by the elliptical orbit is So the period satisfies
and the mean motion of the planet around the Sun
The square of the orbital period of a planet is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit.
This captures the relationship between the distance of planets from the Sun, and their orbital periods.
Kepler enunciated in 1619this third law in a laborious attempt to determine what he viewed as the "music of the spheres" according to precise laws, and express it in terms of musical notation. So it was known as the harmonic law.
Using Newton's Law of gravitation (published 1687), this relation can be found in the case of a circular orbit by setting the centripetal force equal to the gravitational force:
Then, expressing the angular velocity in terms of the orbital period and then rearranging, we find Kepler's Third Law:
A more detailed derivation can be done with general elliptical orbits, instead of circles, as well as orbiting the center of mass, instead of just the large mass. This results in replacing a circular radius, , with the elliptical semi-major axis, , as well as replacing the large mass with . However, with planet masses being so much smaller than the Sun, this correction is often ignored. The full corresponding formula is:
where is the mass of the Sun, is the mass of the planet, and is the gravitational constant, is the orbital period and is the elliptical semi-major axis.
The following table shows the data used by Kepler to empirically derive his law:
|Planet||Mean distance |
to sun (AU)
Upon finding this pattern Kepler wrote:
translated from Harmonies of the World by Kepler (1619)
For comparison, here are modern estimates:
|Planet||Semi-major axis (AU)||Period (days)||(10-6 AU3/day2)|
Isaac Newton computed in his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica the acceleration of a planet moving according to Kepler's first and second law.
This implies that the Sun may be the physical cause of the acceleration of planets. However, Newton states in his Principia that he considers forces from a mathematical point of view, not a physical, thereby taking an instrumentalist view.Moreover, he does not assign a cause to gravity.
Newton defined the force acting on a planet to be the product of its mass and the acceleration (see Newton's laws of motion). So:
The Sun plays an unsymmetrical part, which is unjustified. So he assumed, in Newton's law of universal gravitation:
As the planets have small masses compared to that of the Sun, the orbits conform approximately to Kepler's laws. Newton's model improves upon Kepler's model, and fits actual observations more accurately (see two-body problem).
Below comes the detailed calculation of the acceleration of a planet moving according to Kepler's first and second laws.
From the heliocentric point of view consider the vector to the planet where is the distance to the planet and is a unit vector pointing towards the planet.
where is the unit vector whose direction is 90 degrees counterclockwise of , and is the polar angle, and where a dot on top of the variable signifies differentiation with respect to time.
Differentiate the position vector twice to obtain the velocity vector and the acceleration vector:
where the radial acceleration is
and the transversal acceleration is
Kepler's second law says that
The transversal acceleration is zero:
So the acceleration of a planet obeying Kepler's second law is directed towards the Sun.
The radial acceleration is
Kepler's first law states that the orbit is described by the equation:
Differentiating with respect to time
Differentiating once more
The radial acceleration satisfies
Substituting the equation of the ellipse gives
The relation gives the simple final result
This means that the acceleration vector of any planet obeying Kepler's first and second law satisfies the inverse square law
is a constant, and is the unit vector pointing from the Sun towards the planet, and is the distance between the planet and the Sun.
According to Kepler's third law, has the same value for all the planets. So the inverse square law for planetary accelerations applies throughout the entire Solar System.
The inverse square law is a differential equation. The solutions to this differential equation include the Keplerian motions, as shown, but they also include motions where the orbit is a hyperbola or parabola or a straight line. See Kepler orbit.
By Newton's second law, the gravitational force that acts on the planet is:
where is the mass of the planet and has the same value for all planets in the Solar System. According to Newton's Third Law, the Sun is attracted to the planet by a force of the same magnitude. Since the force is proportional to the mass of the planet, under the symmetric consideration, it should also be proportional to the mass of the Sun, . So
where is the gravitational constant.
The acceleration of solar system body number i is, according to Newton's laws:
where is the mass of body j, is the distance between body i and body j, is the unit vector from body i towards body j, and the vector summation is over all bodies in the Solar System, besides i itself.
In the special case where there are only two bodies in the Solar System, Earth and Sun, the acceleration becomes
which is the acceleration of the Kepler motion. So this Earth moves around the Sun according to Kepler's laws.
If the two bodies in the Solar System are Moon and Earth the acceleration of the Moon becomes
So in this approximation, the Moon moves around the Earth according to Kepler's laws.
In the three-body case the accelerations are
These accelerations are not those of Kepler orbits, and the three-body problem is complicated. But Keplerian approximation is the basis for perturbation calculations. See Lunar theory.
Kepler used his two first laws to compute the position of a planet as a function of time. His method involves the solution of a transcendental equation called Kepler's equation.
The procedure for calculating the heliocentric polar coordinates (r,θ) of a planet as a function of the time t since perihelion, is the following four steps:
The Cartesian velocity vector can be trivially calculated as .
The important special case of circular orbit, ε = 0, gives θ = E = M. Because the uniform circular motion was considered to be normal, a deviation from this motion was considered an anomaly.
The proof of this procedure is shown below.
The Keplerian problem assumes an elliptical orbit and the four points:
The problem is to compute the polar coordinates (r,θ) of the planet from the time since perihelion, t.
It is solved in steps. Kepler considered the circle with the major axis as a diameter, and
The sector areas are related by
The circular sector area
The area swept since perihelion,
is by Kepler's second law proportional to time since perihelion. So the mean anomaly, M, is proportional to time since perihelion, t.
where n is the mean motion.
When the mean anomaly M is computed, the goal is to compute the true anomaly θ. The function θ = f(M) is, however, not elementary. Kepler's solution is to use
as an intermediate variable, and first compute E as a function of M by solving Kepler's equation below, and then compute the true anomaly θ from the eccentric anomaly E. Here are the details.
Division by a2/2 gives Kepler's equation
This equation gives M as a function of E. Determining E for a given M is the inverse problem. Iterative numerical algorithms are commonly used.
Having computed the eccentric anomaly E, the next step is to calculate the true anomaly θ.
But note: Cartesian position coordinates reference the center of ellipse are (a cos E, b sin E)
Reference the Sun (with coordinates (c,0) = (ae,0) ), r = (a cos E – ae, b sin E)
True anomaly would be arctan(ry/rx), magnitude of r would be √.
Note from the figure that
Dividing by and inserting from Kepler's first law
The result is a usable relationship between the eccentric anomaly E and the true anomaly θ.
A computationally more convenient form follows by substituting into the trigonometric identity:
Multiplying by 1 + ε gives the result
This is the third step in the connection between time and position in the orbit.
The fourth step is to compute the heliocentric distance r from the true anomaly θ by Kepler's first law:
Using the relation above between θ and E the final equation for the distance r is:
In mathematics, a spherical coordinate system is a coordinate system for three-dimensional space where the position of a point is specified by three numbers: the radial distance of that point from a fixed origin, its polar angle measured from a fixed zenith direction, and the azimuth angle of its orthogonal projection on a reference plane that passes through the origin and is orthogonal to the zenith, measured from a fixed reference direction on that plane. It can be seen as the three-dimensional version of the polar coordinate system.
Kinematics is a branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of points, bodies (objects), and systems of bodies without considering the forces that caused the motion. Kinematics, as a field of study, is often referred to as the "geometry of motion" and is occasionally seen as a branch of mathematics. A kinematics problem begins by describing the geometry of the system and declaring the initial conditions of any known values of position, velocity and/or acceleration of points within the system. Then, using arguments from geometry, the position, velocity and acceleration of any unknown parts of the system can be determined. The study of how forces act on bodies falls within kinetics, not kinematics. For further details, see analytical dynamics.
Synchrotron radiation is the electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles are accelerated radially, i.e., when they are subject to an acceleration perpendicular to their velocity. It is produced, for example, in synchrotrons using bending magnets, undulators and/or wigglers. If the particle is non-relativistic, then the emission is called cyclotron emission. If, on the other hand, the particles are relativistic, sometimes referred to as ultrarelativistic, the emission is called synchrotron emission. Synchrotron radiation may be achieved artificially in synchrotrons or storage rings, or naturally by fast electrons moving through magnetic fields. The radiation produced in this way has a characteristic polarization and the frequencies generated can range over the entire electromagnetic spectrum which is also called continuum radiation.
Orbital mechanics or astrodynamics is the application of ballistics and celestial mechanics to the practical problems concerning the motion of rockets and other spacecraft. The motion of these objects is usually calculated from Newton's laws of motion and law of universal gravitation. It is a core discipline within space-mission design and control.
In continuum mechanics, the infinitesimal strain theory is a mathematical approach to the description of the deformation of a solid body in which the displacements of the material particles are assumed to be much smaller than any relevant dimension of the body; so that its geometry and the constitutive properties of the material at each point of space can be assumed to be unchanged by the deformation.
Linear elasticity is the mathematical study of how solid objects deform and become internally stressed due to prescribed loading conditions. Linear elasticity models materials as continua. Linear elasticity is a simplification of the more general nonlinear theory of elasticity and is a branch of continuum mechanics. The fundamental "linearizing" assumptions of linear elasticity are: infinitesimal strains or "small" deformations and linear relationships between the components of stress and strain. In addition linear elasticity is valid only for stress states that do not produce yielding. These assumptions are reasonable for many engineering materials and engineering design scenarios. Linear elasticity is therefore used extensively in structural analysis and engineering design, often with the aid of finite element analysis.
In astrodynamics or celestial mechanics, an elliptic orbit or elliptical orbit is a Kepler orbit with an eccentricity of less than 1; this includes the special case of a circular orbit, with eccentricity equal to 0. In a stricter sense, it is a Kepler orbit with the eccentricity greater than 0 and less than 1. In a wider sense, it is a Kepler orbit with negative energy. This includes the radial elliptic orbit, with eccentricity equal to 1.
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In classical mechanics, the Kepler problem is a special case of the two-body problem, in which the two bodies interact by a central force F that varies in strength as the inverse square of the distance r between them. The force may be either attractive or repulsive. The "problem" to be solved is to find the position or speed of the two bodies over time given their masses and initial positions and velocities. Using classical mechanics, the solution can be expressed as a Kepler orbit using six orbital elements.
Spherical multipole moments are the coefficients in a series expansion of a potential that varies inversely with the distance R to a source, i.e., as 1/R. Examples of such potentials are the electric potential, the magnetic potential and the gravitational potential.
The swinging Atwood's machine (SAM) is a mechanism that resembles a simple Atwood's machine except that one of the masses is allowed to swing in a two-dimensional plane, producing a dynamical system that is chaotic for some system parameters and initial conditions.
In celestial mechanics, a Kepler orbit is the motion of one body relative to another, as an ellipse, parabola, or hyperbola, which forms a two-dimensional orbital plane in three-dimensional space. A Kepler orbit can also form a straight line. It considers only the point-like gravitational attraction of two bodies, neglecting perturbations due to gravitational interactions with other objects, atmospheric drag, solar radiation pressure, a non-spherical central body, and so on. It is thus said to be a solution of a special case of the two-body problem, known as the Kepler problem. As a theory in classical mechanics, it also does not take into account the effects of general relativity. Keplerian orbits can be parametrized into six orbital elements in various ways.
In theoretical physics, the Udwadia–Kalaba equation is a method for deriving the equations of motion of a constrained mechanical system. The equation was first described by Firdaus E. Udwadia and Robert E. Kalaba in 1992. The approach is based on Gauss's principle of least constraint. The Udwadia–Kalaba equation applies to a wide class of constraints, both holonomic constraints and nonholonomic ones, as long as they are linear with respect to the accelerations. The equation generalizes to constraint forces that do not obey D'Alembert's principle.
In geometry, the major axis of an ellipse is its longest diameter: a line segment that runs through the center and both foci, with ends at the widest points of the perimeter.
In mathematics, potential flow around a circular cylinder is a classical solution for the flow of an inviscid, incompressible fluid around a cylinder that is transverse to the flow. Far from the cylinder, the flow is unidirectional and uniform. The flow has no vorticity and thus the velocity field is irrotational and can be modeled as a potential flow. Unlike a real fluid, this solution indicates a net zero drag on the body, a result known as d'Alembert's paradox.
The Binet equation, derived by Jacques Philippe Marie Binet, provides the form of a central force given the shape of the orbital motion in plane polar coordinates. The equation can also be used to derive the shape of the orbit for a given force law, but this usually involves the solution to a second order nonlinear ordinary differential equation. A unique solution is impossible in the case of circular motion about the center of force.
Orbital perturbation analysis is the activity of determining why a satellite's orbit differs from the mathematical ideal orbit. A satellite's orbit in an ideal two-body system describes a conic section, usually an ellipse. In reality, there are several factors that cause the conic section to continually change. These deviations from the ideal Kepler's orbit are called perturbations.
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