Gravity puzzle, or how space ships can cover vast distances in the Universe

It turns out that people have learned to make interstellar travel over huge distances. Previously it was thought that use gravity for space jump can only sverhrazdutoe of civilization, as fuel is always limited — it is impossible to bring as much as you want. However, science has leaped forward. Not everyone knows about what happened is a real space revolution.

This principle, the flights with the help of gravity, demonstrated in the sensational film “interstellar”. Read more about this amazing phenomenon tells Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist, consultant to the film (he invented everything that has to do with science) and the author of the book “interstellar. The science behind the scenes” .

The view from the ship, performing a gravitational slingshot

Though Director Christopher Nolan decided not to show the gravitational slingshot (maneuvers, which we describe below) in “interstellar” Kip Thorne was curious, as if they saw Cooper, the main character, piloting the “Ranger” to the planet Miller. So he is using his equations, modeled images for a camera that would Record with the Ranger, making the maneuver around the black hole before landing on planet Miller.

Gravitational slingshot around the hole of Srednerussky. Model Kip Thorne, — illustration from the book.

The average black hole captures the light rays coming from distant stars in the direction of the Gargantua, turns them around and throws towards the camera. Hence the stellar ring of light that surrounds the shadow of a hole of average weight. Although this hole a thousand times smaller than Gargantua, she is much closer to the “Ranger” and therefore does not look small.

Sorry, but to see that, just by being close to both black holes and not from a great remove, which is the Earth.

Gravitational slingshot

Those who watched the movie “interstellar”, you know: spaceship “Endurance” expected return of the crew from planet Miller is the one where one hour equals 7 earth years. The spaceship is not sucked into the black hole Gargantua, he must revolve in its orbit with great speed. The crew are sent with “Endurance” on the “Ranger”, had to reduce the speed of 100,000 km/sec, so that gravity pulled it to the hole and the planet Miller. And so he could get close to a planet, their speed should be compared. But how can you achieve such abrupt changes of speed?

Flight of the Ranger to planet Miller, — illustration from the book.

The most powerful of the missiles, developed to date people, capable of speeds only up to 15 kilometers / second, or seven thousand times less than needed. Probably the fastest spacecraft that humans could build in the twenty-first century, to reach the speed of 300 kilometers per second. But it is not enough.

Fortunately, nature still provides us with the opportunity to make a huge jump speeds: gravitational slingshot near black holes far smaller than Gargantua.

Flight through gravitational slingshot

Stars and small black holes congregate around gigantic black holes like Gargantua. Cooper and his team found out about all the small black holes orbiting Gargantua. They found among them a hole, the position of which is suitable to its gravity rejected “Ranger” from its nearly circular orbit and sent it towards the planet Miller. This maneuver is called a “gravitational slingshot”, and NASA has always been to apply it in the Solar system; however, not used black hole, and planetary gravity.

Left: the Andromeda galaxy, the core of which lurks a black hole the size of Gargantua. Right: dynamic friction, whereby the average hole mass is slowed down and is attracted to a giant black hole — an illustration from the book.

It is believed that sometimes the average hole mass occur in the middle of dense clusters of stars. Take for example the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest large galaxy, the core of which lurks a black hole the size of Gargantua, a mass of 100 million Suns. Such giant black holes shrinks to a huge number of stars. When the average hole mass is so rich, it the force of its gravity moves the stars, leaving behind a trail of increased stellar density. And mark, in turn, pulls the average hole mass, slowing down its motion, and draws her closer to the giant black hole.

This maneuver gravitational slingshot, not shown and not discussed in “interstellar”, but later Cooper says, “Look, I can go around this neutron star to slow down”.

Gravitational maneuvers NASA in the Solar system

Back from the world of probabilities (i.e. that they admit the laws of physics) to real, no frills, gravitational slings in the cosy confines of our Solar system (as of 2014). You may have heard about the NASA spacecraft “Cassini”. It was launched from Earth on 15 October 1997 and could carry too little fuel to reach his goal — the planet Saturn. With a shortage of fuel was able to overcome due to the gravitational slingshot: slingshot around Venus, around the Earth and around Jupiter.

The trajectory of Cassini from Earth to Saturn, illustration from the book

These planets did not deflect the trajectory of the spacecraft dramatically — they have too little gravity, and helped him to compensate for the lack of fuel. In each case, Cassini was deflecting it around the planet at such an angle that the planetary gravity is optimally pushed Cassini forth, increasing his speed.

Cassini explored Saturn and its satellites in the past 10 years, sending it to the Land of awesome Photos and details — a living treasure for scientists.

If you are interested in how science and film incredible intertwined into one, feel free to grasp for “interstellar. The science behind the scenes”. It’s an incredible intellectual pleasure!

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