Why the Earth Doesn’t Fall Into the Sun
We all know the fact that the solar system’s planets revolve around the sun. But not everyone knows how planets manage to stay in their orbits.
5-Minute Crafts is going to tell you how Earth moves and why it still hasn’t fallen into the sun.
Technically, Earth is constantly falling into the sun. But gravity is what keeps the planet from flying out of the solar system. Gravity is a force that depends on an object’s mass. And because the sun is the heaviest object in our solar system, all the planets rotate around it.
A combination of 2 forces
But why doesn’t Earth fall into the sun and burn, you ask? Yes, our planet is attracted to the sun due to its giant mass and gravity. But there are other forces at play here. Fortunately for us, Earth has its own motion. Thanks to the combination of this motion, along with gravity, our planet, moving at almost 30 km/s, is always falling but is never close enough to the sun for gravity to let it pull the planet to the surface.
The same happens to other gravitational orbits. When the astronauts are in the orbit, they are always falling into Earth but never really do.
The right speed
The speed of the planet plays a big role in this. In order for the planet to keep a certain distance from the sun, it has to have a certain speed: not too high to fly away and not too low to fall into the sun.
The reason why Earth keeps this speed is its own mass. Other objects, such as asteroids, have fallen into the sun because they were not massive enough.
Isaac Newton did a thought experiment to try to explain how orbits work. Imagine that there’s a cannon on the surface of the planet that shoots right into the sky. When the ball is going up, gravity pulls it back and it falls back. But it doesn’t land on the same spot. If you shoot again with more speed, it will cover more distance.
But if you can shoot with the right speed, theoretically, the ball might start orbiting around the Earth. It will still fall into Earth but will never reach it because the planet will avoid it faster. So, like the Earth is falling into the sun, the cannonball will keep falling and will never land.