Since the Sun is losing mass, can a planet's orbit change be measured?

by BarnRat
Tags: losing, mass, measured, orbit, planet
BarnRat is offline
Nov14-12, 08:37 AM
P: 21
Since the Sun is changing 4M tons of matter into energy every second and that energy eventually makes its way to the surface and is emitted as an outbound sphere of EM radiation, then the planets' orbits would change over time due to the less massive Sun at the solar system's core. It would seem that there would be a slow outward spiral of each planet. But is this not perceptible by our instruments? Are other factors countering this effect? Does the Sun gain enough mass from interstellar debris that its gravity sucks in to make up for the difference in matter-energy change due to the thermonuclear processes at its heart?
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on
SensaBubble: It's a bubble, but not as we know it (w/ video)
The hemihelix: Scientists discover a new shape using rubber bands (w/ video)
Microbes provide insights into evolution of human language
Chronos is online now
Nov14-12, 11:33 AM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Chronos's Avatar
P: 9,183
Solar mass loss due to hydrogen fusion amounts to about an earth mass over the past 4.5 billion years. Theoretically, this would cause an increase in earth orbit of about 7000 miles - as compared to the ~93 million miles we currently enjoy. The effect is obviously insignificant. The sun accretes only a tiny fraction of mass compared to fusion losses so that effect can be essentially ignored. Earth orbit is also affected by tidal drag from the sun. That effect is also relatively miniscule.
BarnRat is offline
Nov15-12, 08:53 AM
P: 21
Thank you for the response.

Register to reply

Related Discussions
Using iteration to orbit dual suns - losing energy Astrophysics 5
Planet Orbit Mass Problem! Introductory Physics Homework 3
How to much mass does it take to change Neptune's Orbit? Astrophysics 1
Astronomy - Orbit length and Oribital Period of the moon to Mass of the Larger planet Biology, Chemistry & Other Homework 2
satellite question. find mass of planet and weight on planet? Introductory Physics Homework 2