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Q & A: gravitational precession

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Most recent answer: 06/03/2013
In Newtonian Gravity is there a factor similar to the precession factor in GR(ie., in the Scharzschild equation for Mercury's precession).
- Niles Dwyer (age 75)
Park Ridge,Illinois,USA

For a spherical mass, no. However, off-spherical masses have a component of force falling off more rapidly than 1/r2, and that does give some precession. Since the Sun isn't quite spherical, due to its rotation, Mercury shows some of that effect. There is also a precession effect in special relativity, because F=ma isn't quite right.  These effects had to be considered in calculating what precession to expect for Mercury without general relativity, and they still left a discrepancy.

Mike W.

(published on 06/03/2013)

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