Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsAstronomy & Space · 1 decade ago

If the light of a star can push dust and debri, then is gravity not relative?

As a comet makes its way around its orbit of a star, the gas's and dust following the comet are pushed away from the star(sun). Isn't that why it has a tail behind it on the way toward the star, and a tail in front on the way outward?

10 Answers

  • Bob G
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'm not sure what you mean by gravity being relative. It's ONE force that changes the momentum of an object whether moving or standing still. Light and solar particles moving out from the Sun also create forces that can change the momentum of an object.

    As to the tail of a comet, the comet and all of its pieces have a certain momentum. Momentum consists of velocity times MASS. All of the pieces of a comet may start out with the same velocity, but the force from light and solar particles will have more of an effect on the pieces broken off the comet with less mass than on the larger comet core.

    The comet and all of the pieces are still orbiting the Sun even though some of the pieces may have a slightly larger or slightly smaller orbit than the comet's core.

    Edit: I know those that say that light from the Sun pushes debris from the Comet are technically correct, but the 'push' is extremely small and I can't see that causing a tail that size, so I decided to actually look it up.

    Comets have two tails. The more visible tail is due to ionized particles from the comet interacting with the interplanetary magnetic field, which is the most accurate answer relative to the original question. The more visible tail always points directly away from the Sun. The second, less visible tail is due to particles being pushed in the more traditional ways people are discussing in this thread.

  • eri
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Not quite. The dust from the comet isn't pushed away from the Sun - it's melting as the comet travels and falling off, lying in the path of the comet and not directly away from the Sun. The ion trail does point away from the Sun due to solar wind. As light hits something, it imparts a small amount of momentum. If what it's hitting is small enough, it can make a difference in it's trajectory. But I don't see what this has to do with gravity - no, gravity is not relative. It has to do with how much mass there is.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    light isnt doing any pushing. for light to have any force and push an object it would have to have mass, which it doesnt.

    the comet doesnt have a tail infront of it, ever. the tail is because as the comet gets close to the sun it heats up and gives off gas and small peices of it. if those pieces are pushed away from the sun its because of solar wind, not because of the light given off by the sun. solar wind is basically charged particles given off by the sun constantly, those could push something although very minutely.

    and im not sure what u mean by gravity being relative...that has nothing to do with this at all.

  • 1 decade ago

    The tail is indeed in "front" of the comet on the way outward, if you mean that the tail points in the direction the comet is moving at that time. There seems to be some confusion above.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Gravity being relative? To what?

    The only reason why the stuff would fall out of a comet is because of solar wind. Heat and solar particles would push the material out, by melting it.

    Radiation pressure exists, (as pointed out otherwise by someone up there) but I'm not sure whether it contributes.

  • Brant
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Just like smoke from a ship. If the wind speed is faster than the ship, the smoke may be going ahead of the boat, to the sides, or behind.

    Solar wind is fast but thin. It will affect gaseous materials but not the large mass of the comet.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    The bending of sunshine is (often) particularly small - mild has to return and forth somewhat close to to a huge merchandise (which include.. a celebrity... or a galaxy...) to 'bend' it heavily. (In relativistic words, the mild would not certainly bend, yet area is 'formed' diverse so the shortest course makes it look (to a miles off observer) as though the mild had 'bent') mild would not bypass *with the aid of* stars - it comes *from* stars, and would bypass *close to* different stars. For the main section, no calculations are mandatory. in basic terms in some very particular situations is it even detectable. needless to say, those are situations that astronomers like to learn - precisely because of the fact they are very particular situations....

  • Mark
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Light isn't doing the pushing.

  • 1 decade ago

    light contains photons, and these little balls of energy can push small amounts of mass, i mean very small, down to protons, nuetrons and electrons

    just to clarify

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Gravity relative to what?

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