What is spin-orbit coupling? How can I describe Mercury's unique orbit around the Sun? What has caused this strange phenomenon to occur?© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com December 24, 2021, 9:10 pm ad1c9bdddf
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What is spin-orbit coupling?
Spin-orbit coupling occurs when two condensed matter systems (or solids) are stuck in a spin due to the coupling between orbital motion and the electron intrinsic angular momentnum. This partnership causes the two solids to become intermingled, and that is what makes spin-orbit coupling a unique event.
Modern astronomers include another aspect to spin-orbit coupling, stating that the tide causes the smaller object in the rotation to slow its rotation speed to equal that of the larger object.
Basically, spin-orbit coupling occurrs when two objects (in this case, Mercury and the Sun) are stuck in a spin around each other, and the orbital motion (spin) and the electron instrinsic angular momentum (gravitational, or magnetically-based axis) cause the objects to spin so closely together that it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart.
How can I describe Mercury's unique orbit around the Sun!? What has caused this strange phenomenon to occur?
Mercury has a unique orbit in which its' eccentricity (how much the orbit deviates from a perfect circle) is 0.21, and its' distance from the Sun ranges from 46 to 70 million kilometers. Mercury also has an 88 day long orbit and a single day on Mercury is equivalent to 176 days on Earth, which, combined with the variations of distance from the Sun, causes complex variations of the surface temperature of Mercury from 800°F (430°C), to -300°F (-180°C).
Mercury has a unique orbit in that Newtonian physics is unable to explain its orbit, for the orbit seemed to be controlled by more than just the planet's axis and gravitational pulling. Einstein's general relativity theory explained that the occurrence is a distortion of the fabric of space caused by the Sun's gravity.
Websites that I find to be useful:
Eccentricity of an Orbit:
Uniqueness of Mercury: