Physics Question #2265

A. S. Kaire, a 18 year old female from Quezon asks on September 30, 2004,

If the earth were suddenly stopped in its orbit, how long would it take for it to fall into the sun?

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The answer

Jess Brewer answered on October 3, 2004

As it happens, this problem is very difficult to solve analytically (i.e. by integrating the equations of motion) but it is pretty easy to do numerically, to a fair approximation. Assuming I have not made any arithmetic mistakes, the graph below shows the distance from the Sun in metres as a function of time in seconds. Looks like you hit in about 88.8 days or so. Plenty of time to reconsider. :-)

(Right-click on the graphic to open in a new window. It can be enlarged to read the text and axis units.)

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