What is Gravitational: Definition and 1000 Discussions

Gravity (from Latin gravitas 'weight'), or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass or energy—including planets, stars, galaxies, and even light—are attracted to (or gravitate toward) one another. On Earth, gravity gives weight to physical objects, and the Moon's gravity causes the ocean tides. The gravitational attraction of the original gaseous matter present in the Universe caused it to begin coalescing and forming stars and caused the stars to group together into galaxies, so gravity is responsible for many of the large-scale structures in the Universe. Gravity has an infinite range, although its effects become weaker as objects get further away.
Gravity is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity (proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915), which describes gravity not as a force, but as a consequence of masses moving along geodesic lines in a curved spacetime caused by the uneven distribution of mass. The most extreme example of this curvature of spacetime is a black hole, from which nothing—not even light—can escape once past the black hole's event horizon. However, for most applications, gravity is well approximated by Newton's law of universal gravitation, which describes gravity as a force causing any two bodies to be attracted toward each other, with magnitude proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
Gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental interactions of physics, approximately 1038 times weaker than the strong interaction, 1036 times weaker than the electromagnetic force and 1029 times weaker than the weak interaction. As a consequence, it has no significant influence at the level of subatomic particles. In contrast, it is the dominant interaction at the macroscopic scale, and is the cause of the formation, shape and trajectory (orbit) of astronomical bodies.
Current models of particle physics imply that the earliest instance of gravity in the Universe, possibly in the form of quantum gravity, supergravity or a gravitational singularity, along with ordinary space and time, developed during the Planck epoch (up to 10−43 seconds after the birth of the Universe), possibly from a primeval state, such as a false vacuum, quantum vacuum or virtual particle, in a currently unknown manner. Attempts to develop a theory of gravity consistent with quantum mechanics, a quantum gravity theory, which would allow gravity to be united in a common mathematical framework (a theory of everything) with the other three fundamental interactions of physics, are a current area of research.

View More On Wikipedia.org
  1. DaveC426913

    B TV Series: 3 Body Problem - affects gravitational force?

    SPOILERS This obviously wouldn't happen to that extent, not without tearing the planet to pieces as well. But might they feel a reduction in weight at all? Obviously it's a pretty hypothetical question without any specifics about the distances to the suns but in theory at least.
  2. H

    I Is momentum conserved as a body falls through a gravitational field?

    If one stands on a large planetary body, like the moon, and throws a large object, like a rock straight up, the object will leave with some velocity, slow down to a stop, and then come back down with the same velocity once it returns to its origin. In Newtonian mechanics, the understanding is...
  3. T

    I Is Gravitational Red-Blue Shift Dismissed in Cosmic Observations?

    Why is gravitational red blue shift ruled out as a cause of what we see in stars and galaxy's and such?
  4. BiGyElLoWhAt

    I Newtonian path of light in a gravitational field

    I think this is the appropriate subforum. I'm curious as to what approaches have been taken. I know this prediction isn't correct. I can think of at least a couple ways that I could go about this. They may or may not give the same prediction. One approach would be to simply use kinematics, and...
  5. M

    A Towards a purely gravitational effective theory of dark matter

    "The Price of Abandoning Dark Matter Is Nonlocality" (Deffayet, Woodard) written in response to "What is the price of abandoning dark matter? Cosmological constraints on alternative gravity theories" (Pardo, Spergel) In a nutshell, as explained after equation 34, by adding a nonlocal...
  6. Lok

    B Gravitational potential energy, a thought experiment

    Hi PF, long time no see. Hope you are all well. Recently I have come into a mental conundrum of a cosmological physical nature. After doing some napkin calculations about the energy of celestial bodies and transforming them into mass via E=mc^2 I've found that said energy is by no means small...
  7. S

    I Gravitational field modulation of a moving mass

    If a mass is moving it has a wavelength - my question is, is the gravitational field of the mass then modulated accordingly ?
  8. Grizzly_1

    Gravitational equipotential multiple choice problem

    Hello everyone, thank you for taking your time to read this. I was assigned a homework task of multiple choice questions to do with gravitational fields. This is one of the last questions and I have been pondering over it for some time now. I don't understand how any sort of answer is...
  9. D

    Why is Gravitational Force Proportional to Mass Product?

    why is that the gravitational force proportional to product of masses why not sum of masses or something else .........
  10. jedishrfu

    B FRB & Gravitational Wave Link: Scientists Baffled

  11. K

    I Deur Gravitational self-interaction Doesn't Explain Galaxy Rotation Curves

    Deur Gravitational self-interaction Doesn't Explain Galaxy Rotation Curves this paper A. N. Lasenby, M. P. Hobson, W. E. V. Barker, "Gravitomagnetism and galaxy rotation curves: a cautionary tale" arXiv:2303.06115 (March 10, 2023). Directly comments on Deur's theory of self-interaction...
  12. Sciencemaster

    I Gravitational Field Transformations Under Boosted Velocity

    Let's say we have some observer in some curved spacetime, and we have another observer moving relative to them with some velocity ##v## that is a significant fraction of ##c##. How would coordinates in this curved spacetime change between the two reference frames? For example, imagine a...
  13. Hallucinogen

    I Understanding Physical Processes: EM, Gravitational, Mechanical & Entropic

    Hi, I'm putting together some resources about theories and would like some help to make sure I don't make a mistake. In particular, I'd like to know if each of the electromagnetic, gravitational, mechanical and entropic processes applies to every physical process. So, for example, due to an...
  14. H

    I Gravitational Field Existence in Void: Philosophical Inquiry

    This is of a more philosophical inquiry. If two particles are in a void and moving apart, if they are sufficiently far apart, like say the distance between two galaxy cluster walls, does the gravitational field between them still fundamentally exist? I'm trying to understand if gravity will...
  15. C

    Exploring the Relationship between Buoyancy Force and Gravitational Force

    Picture below. Both bodies are made of same material but the body placed in water had 2.4 times greater mass. What is the relationship between buoyancy Force and gravitational force between body in water and body in air?I have no clue how to solve this. I know that body with greater mass has 2.4...
  16. jeffinbath

    I Question about Moon's gravitational effect on tidal bulge

    Am I correct in thinking that the gravitational field of the moon passes straight through the Earth as if in a vacuum, to produce a tidal bulge on the opposite side to where the moon is, while the Earth’s much stronger field cannot actually bend or modify it as it passes through but can only add...
  17. Superposed_Cat

    I Conservation of Energy in GR: A-B System Analysis

    Assume you have a two particle system, A, which has a mass and gravitational pull of g, and B, an object with low mass, The system starts at time 0 with the distance between A and B being 0, A being at rest and B having enough kinetic energy to move it a distance r away from A, until time t all...
  18. S

    Does the gravitational rate of acceleration increase within a planet?

    Example: The radius of the Earth is 6371 km. It has an average density of 5.5 g/cm3. Earth's inner core has the highest density at 12.9 g/cm3 [more than double the average]. Its surface gravity is measured in units of acceleration, which, in the SI system, are meters per second squared. It may...
  19. S

    I Exploring the Potential of Vacuum Energy & Gravity

    I was reading this, but am confused: https://nautil.us/the-remarkable-emptiness-of-existence-256323/
  20. Kostik

    A Static Gravitational Field: Why Must ##g_{m0} = 0##?

    In Dirac's "General Theory of Relativity", he begins Chap 16, with "Let us consider a static gravitational field and refer it to a static coordinate system. The ##g_{\mu\nu}## are then constant in time, ##g_{\mu\nu,0}=0##. Further, we must have ##g_{m0} = 0, (m=1,2,3)##." It's obvious that...
  21. S

    I Can gravitational waves gain energy in an expanding FRW spacetime?

    I was reading this paper (*Green's functions for gravitational waves in FRW spacetimes:* [https://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9309025](https://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9309025)) and I had a specific question about one statement in the paper that I would like to ask: At page 6, the author says that...
  22. J

    Masses colliding due to gravitational attraction

    When one mass is held fixed, the other mass acquires a speed v from gravity. I don't understand the following explanation: When both masses can move, they share the kinetic energy, so both have speed v/√2, so the relative speed is √2v. Hence to collapse the same distance r, the latter case will...
  23. Z

    I Gravitational Waves from Vanishing Sun: What Happens?

    For some time I was wondering, what would happen if the Sun just disappeared like someone hit the delete button in Universal Sandbox. Specifically, what kind of gravitational waves will be produced in the wake of such an event? Would the law of conservation of Mass-Energy be miraculously...
  24. marcosdb

    I Time dilation from galactic gravitational mass

    I've been thinking about how rotational speeds don't fall off high distances from galactic centers, for which dark matter is generally an explanation for the increase in acceleration Speed = distance / time But time is relative What "time" is used in these calculations? Wouldn't time be...
  25. Green dwarf

    I Time Dilation in Gravitational Field: Potential vs Field Strength

    I'm wondering is whether it is the gravitational potential (in J/kg) at a point in space that determines the rate of passage of time, or whether it is the gravitational field strength (in m/s2). To clarify, suppose you had a very heavy hollow spherical shell. The gravitational potential would...
  26. J

    Hollowed out sphere exerting gravitational force

    I solved that the hollowed out mass is M/8, which is correct. I don't understand why it is incorrect to substitute the remaining mass (7M/8) back into the F = G*m1m2/r to produce the force. Why is the solution the force of the whole lead sphere minus the force of the “hole” lead sphere, which is...
  27. Feynstein100

    B How many electrons to make a stable gravitational object?

    I was wondering if we could have an object made up of only electrons. Normally, that wouldn't be possible because electrons repel each other. However, this repulsion can be overcome using gravity. So my question is, how many electrons would you need to have their gravitational attraction...
  28. dom_quixote

    B Tangran, Inertial Mass and Gravitational Mass

    Imagine a tangran puzzle, in which an extra piece "y", identical to piece 'x', is maliciously added. No matter how hard the player tries, he will never be able to restore the game's original form, that is: a perfect square. This illustration has a clear purpose: If gravitational mass and...
  29. E

    I Calculation of gravitational redshift in an accelerating elevator

    When we derive the formula of the redshift by the equivalence principle we imagine a light ray which goes from the bottom to the top of the elevator and which would take a duration t = h/c to make the journey, with h = height of the elevator. I don't understand why t = h/c, because while the ray...
  30. S

    B Can gravitational force have influence on objects at infinitely long distances?

    Can gravitational force have influence at objects at infinitely long distance? Is gravitational force in the form quantum packets?
  31. S

    B High Temperature in Gravitational Fields: Exploring the Possibility?

    Sir, heat is proportional to the vibration of atoms. If the vibration of atom is restricted to large extent due to intense gravitational field but has high quantity of total energy in the atom then does it mean it has high tempearture like the stars?
  32. rwh2100

    B Gravitational acceleration and sub-atomic electric charge

    Wak a ball with a bat and the ball accelerates. Now under gravity, hold the ball out horizontally, let go and the ball accelerates ... without a wak. Given that gravity arises from curved space-time, I suggest further that the acceleration of the ball arises when sub-atomic particles (in the...
  33. Rikudo

    Gravitational field of a hollow sphere

    Why the area of the thin rings are ##2πasin\theta \, ds##? (a is the radius of the hollow sphere) If we look from a little bit different way, the ring can be viewed as a thin trapezoid that has the same base length ( ##2πa sin\theta##), and the legs are ## ds##. The angle between the leg and...
  34. IXWELL

    B General Relativity & Grav. Time Dilation Qn

    hello I'm korean high school student and sorry for my poor English. I saw ## t_0=t_f\sqrt{1 -\frac{ 2GM}{rc^2}} ## in wikipedia. does ## \sqrt{1 -\frac{ 2GM}{rc^2}} ## of this equation have name like lorentz factor ## \frac{1}{\sqrt{1 -\frac{v^2}{c^2}}} ##of ## t=\frac{t_0}{\sqrt{1...
  35. A

    B Gravitational Potential Energy & Mass Change: Andrew's Question

    If I start with two, otherwise isolated, masses M and m initially together and do work to separate them then the work done, I assume, goes into the gravitational binding energy between them. Will the system of mass M and m have increased in mass due to this in accordance with e=mc^2? I...
  36. R

    B Mathematics involving a gravitational force

    It's been more than 60 years since I attended high school, and I am trying to learn and understand concepts in Newton's physics that were not taught and were not part of the school curriculum during the 1950's. It is my understanding that the current mathematics taught and used in our...
  37. Narasoma

    I Gravity Wave Speed: Deriving Constancy from Maxwell Eqs.

    We can derive the constancy of the speed of light from Maxwell equations. My questions are: 1. Why it is then need to postulate it when we can obtain it from Maxwell equations? 2. It is stated in many books that gravity wave also propagates with the same speed, c. How do we conclude that? Is...
  38. S

    Gravitational PE for a certain distance from the Sun

    hello guys, sims back again with another question.. I don't understand what is up with question (b) cuz like.. to get ##v_esc## we assume that at ##r_0=\inf## ##v=0## but now if I assume at ##r=1.5E8## that ##v=0##. And then find ##v_esc## from the following: ##\frac12*mv_{esc}^2 -...
  39. O

    I Does gravitational energy travel like electrical energy?

    Electrons flowing through a resistor are dissipating electrical energy. The electrical energy is transported from the battery to the electrons along the curved field lines of the Poynting vector. It seems like a meaningful idea that electrical energy necessarily travels from the source to the...
  40. K

    B Does Mass Have Lasting Gravitational Effect Over Time?

    I've been thinking about gravity. If mass contracts spacetime, can the warping effects be measured in time as well as spatial distance? For example -- say you had some matter that suddenly disappeared (please ignore the "how"). Measured in a fixed position, would the gravitational effect drop...
  41. JandeWandelaar

    I Uniform gravitational field possible in GR?

    Mentors’ note: this thread is forked from https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/free-fall-in-curved-spacetime.1016510/ But what if the gravity field is homogeneous? Like that of an infinite massive plane? The objects in the ship will stay where they are. An infinite massive plane is quite...
  42. C

    I Gravitational potential energy

    Hello everyone! I noticed in the derivation of potential energy, Mr Lewin defined the gravitational potential energy of a mass m at point P relative to a much larger mass M. He says the potential energy of m at point P is equal to the work he would have to do to move the mass m from infinity to...
  43. qnt200

    I The gravitational center of the Earth

    We know that gravitational forces are nullified near the center of the Earth, so the gravitational field's influence is not felt. Is it because of the Moon's gravitational field that the area of zero gravity has shifted away from the center of the Earth? If this is the case, this eccentric area...
  44. K

    I Postulating a minimum gravitational field strength

    this paper postulating a minimum gravitational field strength postulating a minimum gravitational field strength (minimum curvature) and a minimum acceleration but otherwise leaving Gr could reproduce MOND [Submitted on 25 May 2022] MONG: An extension to galaxy...
  45. frankinstien

    I Zero-Point Energy and Gravitational Influence

    I ran into another article demonstrating the Casimir effect and it hit me that zero-point energy is real mass and therefore would have a gravitational influence on our universe. Is there something wrong with this idea, am I missing something?
  46. L

    B Why are gravitons needed to explain gravitational attraction?

    Hi! Isn't gravity just a smaller object moving toward the lower energy state created by a larger object (time slows down the closer you are to a massive object)? Why do we need a force carrying particle for gravity?
  47. wcivch

    B Ride Gravitational Waves to Increase Speed?

    This is my first post so I apologize if i am in error anywhere. I recently had a thought that I have had trouble confirming. Based on the following assumptions. 1.) As you accelerate an object near the speed of light it’s mass increases exponentially. 2.) Mass warps space time. 3.) Spacetime...