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Orbit

Perturbation Theory, Types Of Orbits, Orbits Of Double And Multiple Stars

An orbit is the path followed by a celestial body moving in a gravitational field. When a single object, such as a planet, is moving freely in a gravitational field of a massive body, such as a star, the orbit is in the shape of a conic section, that is, elliptical, parabolic, or hyperbolic. Most orbits are elliptical.

The exact path and position of an object in space can be determined by taking into account seven orbital elements. These elements deal with the mathematical relationships between the two bodies. To determine the orbit of a celestial body, it must be observed and precise measurements taken at least three times. However, at least 20 precise observations, covering at least one full revolution, are needed for accurate orbital elements to be determined. If two bodies that move in elliptical orbits around their common center of mass (for example, the Sun and Jupiter) were alone in an otherwise empty universe, we would expect that their orbits would remain constant. However, the solar system consists of the Sun, eight major planets, and an enormous number of much smaller bodies all orbiting around the solar system's center of mass. The masses of these objects all influence the orbits of each other in small and large ways.


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