Gravity and Stellar Orbits

Gravity and Orbits

This demo was developed by Professor James Larkin

This is a very flexible demo that can be used to show a variety of astronomical phenomena. Nylon fabric stretched over a circular PVC pipe frame represents the fabric of space-time, which can be affected by objects with mass. Heavy sandbags can be placed in the center of the frame to represent some heavy central mass. By swirling a marble or a handful of marbles around, one can (fairly accurately!) demonstrate the behavior of stars and planets in orbit around a central mass. One can also use this demo to demonstrate the clumping of marbles into a single body that orbits together (similar to the way that moons form out of small planetesimals). A manual with further details on how this demo can be used will be made available soon.