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Celestial Mechanics

Non-gravitational Effects

Twentieth century physics have found that photons of light possess momentum which, when they are absorbed or reflected by material bodies, transfers momentum to the bodies, producing a light pressure effect. The interaction of photon velocity of light with the orbital velocities of bodies orbiting the Sun produces a retarding effect on their orbits known as the Poynting-Robertson Effect. These effects are insignificant for large solar system bodies, but are important for bodies smaller than 0.394 in (1 cm) in diameter. The Poynting-Robertson Effect causes such small interplanetary particles to spiral inwards towards the Sun and to eventually be vaporized by heating from its radiation. Much smaller (micron-sized) particles will be pushed out away from the Sun by light pressure which, along with electromagnetic forces, are the dominant mechanisms for the formation of comet tails.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Categorical judgement to ChimaeraCelestial Mechanics - Planetary Perturbations, Resonance Phenomena, Tidal Effects, Precession, Non-gravitational Effects, The Three-body Problem