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brunger

Why does mercury follow an ellipse?

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brunger

does the sun not create a perfect sphere of warped space time around it?? Because if it does why does Mercury not follow the strait-line or shortest path??

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Torgo

All orbits are elliptical, not just that of Mercury. It is just the most elliptical. The curvature of space near the Sun causes the ellipse to PRECESS around the sun.

Orbits are elliptical because while any orbit of a given period has the same energy, that energy can be distributed differently in radial and sideways directions. If the velocity is entirely sideways, the planet will move in a perfect circle. As angular momentum goes down though, the planet winds up oscillating in and out while speeding up as it falls inwards, and slowing down as it falls outwards.

There is no rule of nature that demands that a stable orbit be a perfect circle.

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brunger

Thank you for the explanation, It is along the same lines as my own thoughts but couldn't find the right words..

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