Because it’s Friday: Gravity Wells

January 8, 2010
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(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

It's a little strange to see a web comic come up with such interesting visualizations, but xkcd has followed up on their movie timelines charts with this illustration of the gravitational attraction of the various bodies in the solar system. The gravitational force at the surface of the planet or moon determines how high you'd need to jump in order to be launched into orbit (or, more realistically, how fast you'd have to launch a projectile for it to escape the planet into space). Physicists refer to this energy required to escape as the "gravity well" of a body and xkcd represents this by ... the depth of an actual well, scaled to Earth standards. Ingenious! Be sure to click the image for the fullsize version.

Gravity_wells

xkcd: Gravity Wells (via Flowing Data)

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