Can a planet have different levels of gravitational pull

  1. when you approach it from different directions?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. ZetaOfThree

    ZetaOfThree 106
    Gold Member

    Sure, if it had more mass on one side than another...
     
  4. HallsofIvy

    HallsofIvy 40,769
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    The acceleration due to gravity varies (slightly) on the surface of the earth. Primarily from very low areas to high altitude areas.
     
  5. Yes, to a degree. It depends where the barycenter of mass lies, but you can have variations in gravitational forces at different points on the sphere.

    The Earth has some variation due to different local densities in the Earth's crust. The Earth's gravity can vary as much as .7%, which is not very much.

    I don't think it is likely that a planet, as defined by the IAU, would have a large degree of gravitational variation beyond 1 or 2%.
     
  6. Thank you all.
     
  7. This is like when there is a mountain with a huge iron core vs a mountain of just regular rock right? whereas the density of the first mountain would increase the gravitational pull?
     
  8. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Indirectly, yes. Gravitation is the result of mass, so assuming the two mountains are of similar sizes, the one with the greater density has more mass and therefore more gravitational pull.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. QuantumPion

    QuantumPion 870
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't know what the specific variation on the moon is but I've read that it is such that it is difficult to have a stable low orbit there due to local gravity variations.
     
  10. D H

    Staff: Mentor

    One of my favorite articles on this topic: Bizarre Lunar Orbits.
     
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