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The Elements of Relativity$
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David M. Wittman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199658633.001.0001

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(p.222) 17 Orbits
The Elements of Relativity

David M. Wittman

Oxford University Press

Orbits are ubiquitous in the universe: moons orbit planets, planets orbit stars, stars orbit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and so on. Any theory of gravity will have to explain the properties of all these orbits. To pave the way for developing the metric theory of gravity (general relativity) this chapter examines the basics of orbits as observed and as explained by the Newtonian model of gravity. We can use our understanding of gravity to infer the masses and other properties of these cosmic systems. Te chapter concludes with four optional sections in this spirit, covering the slingshot maneuver; dark matter; binary star orbits and how they reveal the masses of stars; and extrasolar planets.

Keywords:   orbit, Kepler’s laws, Newtonian gravity, slingshot maneuver, dark matter, binary star, extrasolar planet (exoplanet), precession

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