physics question #2265



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

Q:

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, A:

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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