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The universe is estimated to have at least about 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, and to have a diameter of at least about 30,000,000,000 light years. It is split up into various types of galaxies and other components.
Our Milky Way galaxy is estimated to contain about 200,000,000,000 stars, and to have a diameter of about 100,000 light years with our sun about 26,000 light years from its centre. If even 1 star in a million allows the evolution of intelligent life, then humans should be far from alone.
Knowledge of the universe has grown and continues to grow, but
currently we can basically say ;
1. We have quite a lot of experience of our own planet, with quite a lot of experiments having been done regarding it.
2. We have a bit of experience of our own solar system, with some experiments having been done regarding it.
3. We have very little experience beyond our solar system, with very few experiments having been done regarding it.
Classic physics was built on 1 and 2, but modern physics ideas tend to rely more on 3.
Modern physics is fragmented and contains some real problems, as ;
A. Though the centres of galaxies are clearly very bright, it is claimed that they surround a large black hole ?
B. Though space looks clearly empty, it is claimed that it is full ?
C. Despite strong disproofs of Descartes push-physics, we have push-physics claims of physics with no actual push ?
And there are certainly other issues being strongly debated, and what are the real priority issues for physics now is far from agreed.
One of the most common forms of motion in the universe is
orbital motion, mainly of smaller bodies orbiting around more
massive bodies. Orbits of bodies in space can generally be taken as
being determined chiefly by gravitation and so by Newton's laws of
motion and gravitation.
Orbits around a massive body of some mass M require some speed that is below Escape Velocity vE but above Circular Velocity vC. For a distance r from the centre of gravity of a mass M, where r also needs to be larger than the radius of the massive body, vE²=2GM/r and vC²=GM/r. At the Earth's surface vE = 11.2 km/sec (40,300 km/hr) and vC = 7.9 km/sec (28,400 km/hr).
The factor M/r means required velocities are bigger for orbits around more massive bodies, and for a particular massive body required velocities are smaller for farther orbits.
The same considerations apply to orbiting for all massive bodies, as to orbits around the Earth, the Sun or Black Holes. The greater mass of a Black Hole means that only the fastest bodies will orbit close to a Black Hole, though slower bodies will orbit farther from it.
So generally objects passing a massive body at a speed between Escape Velocity vE and Circular Velocity vC will be pulled into orbit around it. But objects passing at a speed below Circular Velocity vC will be pulled into the body, and objects passing at a speed above Escape Velocity vE and Circular Velocity vC will continue past the body. The required speeds are set by the mass of the body and the pass distance. Of course at any speed a direct collision course means collision.
And if an orbiting body has a mass insignificantly small relative to the massive body then,
1. If its (orbital) speed is exactly the circular speed vC at r, the orbit will be a Circle passing through r, around the centre of the massive body.
2. If its (orbital) speed is slower than the circular speed vC at r, the orbit will be an Ellipse smaller than the circle that passes through r, with the massive body at its far focus.
3. If its (orbital) speed is faster than the circular speed vC at r, but less than the escape speed at r (vE), then the orbit will be an Ellipse larger than the circular orbit that passes through r, with the central body at its near focus.
If orbit velocities and distances are known to some accuracy then massive body mass can be estimated to some accuracy. Of course these considerations cannot be applied to massless zero-inertia objects, even if somehow attracted by gravity.
Two websites to help inform you on what physicists
and astronomers are up to lately are http://physicsworld.com/ and www.universetoday.com/
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