# Why does the gravitational force decrease below the Earth's surface?

• Steven Hansel
In summary, the force of gravity decreases below Earth's surface because the distance to the center of the planet decreases, resulting in a decrease in the total mass that is pulling on the object. This can be explained by the equation g = G (4πR^3ρ)/(3r^2), where R is the radius of the planet, r is the distance to the center, ρ is the density of the planet, and G is the universal gravity constant. As an object is placed in a deep hole, the force of gravity will decrease, as the mass above the object is now pulling it out of the hole rather than towards the center. This is due to the decrease in radius and mass of the planet at that depth.
Steven Hansel

## Homework Statement

Why does gravity force decreases below Earth's surface?

## Homework Equations

F = G (m1 m2)/r^2
F = force of gravity
G = Universal gravity constant
m1 and m2 = mass of the objects
r = distance between two objects

g = GM/r^2
g = gravity of the object
G = universal gravity constant
M = mass of the object
r = distance/radius between two objects

a = g

g1 = g0 (1-h/r)
g1 = gravity below Earth surface
g0 = gravity in the Earth surface
h = height of the object
r = distance between two objects

## The Attempt at a Solution

I'm really confused on why does gravity force decreases below Earth's surface. Gravity becomes stronger when the radius/distance become shorter between two objects. Now, an object is getting shorter radius/distance to the planet why the gravitational force decreases? Isn't it supposed to be stronger? I looked up at the internet and it said "The body will be attracted by the mass of the Earth which is enclosed in a sphere of radius (R - h)" Does this mean that gravity decreases because there are mass in that enclosed sphere?
So, will the gravitational force increases if i create a really deep hole below Earth surface and put an object into the deep hole?
Thanks for answering beforehand!

Last edited:
Can you write down the gravitational force equation and list all the variables in it?

Steven Hansel
Bandersnatch said:
Can you write down the gravitational force equation and list all the variables in it?
Done!

Ok, consider an uniform solid sphere (a ball) composed of some material of density ρ. The sphere has mass M and radius R. Can you express the mass of the sphere in terms of its radius and density?

Steven Hansel
Bandersnatch said:
Ok, consider an uniform sphere composed of some material of density ρ. The sphere has mass M and radius R. Can you express the mass of the sphere in terms of its radius and density?
Msphere = 4/3π.r^3.p
i think replace M with volume of a sphere and density of the sphere? into the equation of g = 4π.r^3.p/3.(r-h)^2
Correct me if I'm wrong thanks!

Steven Hansel said:
Msphere = 4/3π.r^3.p
i think replace M with volume of a sphere and density of the sphere? into the equation of g
so far so good.
Steven Hansel said:
g = 4π.r^3.p/(r-h)^2
Forget h. We're looking at gravitational acceleration at the surface of the sphere.
You forgot G and the factor of 1/3 from the volume equation. The equation should read:
##g=G \frac{4 \pi R^3 \rho}{3 r^2}##
Where R is the radius of the sphere and r is the distance to the centre of the gravitational field. When you're above the surface of a sphere, these two are different. But they're equal when standing on the surface of a sphere, which let's you write:
##g=CR## where C are all the constants grouped together.

Is everything clear so far? Can you see what happens if you dig down?

Steven Hansel
Bandersnatch said:
so far so good.

Forget h. We're looking at gravitational acceleration at the surface of the sphere.
You forgot G and the factor of 1/3 from the volume equation. The equation should read:
##g=G \frac{4 \pi R^3 \rho}{3 r^2}##
Where R is the radius of the sphere and r is the distance to the centre of the gravitational field. When you're above the surface of a sphere, these two are different. But they're equal when standing on the surface of a sphere, which let's you write:
##g=CR## where C are all the constants grouped together.

Is everything clear so far? Can you see what happens if you dig down?
Wow, thanks! that really give me an insight, i was confused at the sphere part but now i understand. thanks again!

Steven Hansel said:
So, will the gravitational force increases if i create a really deep hole below Earth surface and put an object into the deep hole?

If you put an object in a very deep hole, then the Earth's mass above the object will be trying to pull it out of the hole, and no longer be pulling it towards the centre.

Steven Hansel
PeroK said:
If you put an object in a very deep hole, then the Earth's mass above the object will be trying to pull it out of the hole, and no longer be pulling it towards the centre.
That really helped me more, because of the radius decreasing as we go to the core of the earth, the mass of earth/radius into the core also decreases. thanks a lot!

PeroK said:
If you put an object in a very deep hole, then the Earth's mass above the object will be trying to pull it out of the hole, and no longer be pulling it towards the centre.
That's not a good description as it contradicts the shell theorem. The object should feel no net force from any of the planet's mass above it. It only feels force from the mass below it, and said mass is less the deeper the object is.

For the benefit of Steven:
It looks as if PerOk and Gneill disagree. They don't. They just have a different idea of 'above'. For P it's in a direction away from the object and away from the center of the Earth towards the surface and for GNeill it's everything that's further away from the center of the Earth than the object. PeroK: dome, Neill: shell.

Makes a difference.

The nice thing is that indeed the 'above' from PerOk and his 'below' (but outside the sphere with a radius equal to the distance from the object to the center of the earth) exactly compensate each other: no net force as Gneill states.

Steven Hansel and PeroK

## 1. Why does the gravitational force decrease as you go deeper below the Earth's surface?

The gravitational force is caused by the mass of an object. As you go deeper below the Earth's surface, the mass above you decreases, resulting in a decrease in gravitational force.

## 2. How does the distance from the center of the Earth affect the strength of gravitational force?

The strength of gravitational force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the center of the Earth. This means that the further you are from the center of the Earth, the weaker the gravitational force will be.

## 3. Does the decrease in gravitational force have any effect on objects below the Earth's surface?

Yes, the decrease in gravitational force will have an effect on objects below the Earth's surface. However, this effect is often negligible because the decrease in gravitational force is very small and is offset by the Earth's strong internal forces.

## 4. Is the decrease in gravitational force the same at all points below the Earth's surface?

No, the decrease in gravitational force is not the same at all points below the Earth's surface. This is because the distribution of mass within the Earth is not uniform, causing variations in gravitational force at different depths.

## 5. How does the decrease in gravitational force below the Earth's surface affect the weight of objects?

The decrease in gravitational force below the Earth's surface will result in a decrease in the weight of objects. This is because weight is a measure of the force of gravity acting on an object, and as the gravitational force decreases, so does the weight of the object.

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