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Gravitational field

Model in physics / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In physics, a gravitational field or gravitational acceleration field is a vector field used to explain the influences that a body extends into the space around itself.[1] A gravitational field is used to explain gravitational phenomena, such as the gravitational force field exerted on another massive body. It has dimension of acceleration (L/T2) and it is measured in units of newtons per kilogram (N/kg) or, equivalently, in meters per second squared (m/s2).

Earth-moon-field.svg
Representation of the gravitational field of Earth and Moon combined (not to scale). Vector field (blue) and its associated scalar potential field (red). Point P between earth and moon is the point of equilibrium.

In its original concept, gravity was a force between point masses. Following Isaac Newton, Pierre-Simon Laplace attempted to model gravity as some kind of radiation field or fluid, and since the 19th century, explanations for gravity in classical mechanics have usually been taught in terms of a field model, rather than a point attraction. It results from the spatial gradient of the gravitational potential field.

In general relativity, rather than two particles attracting each other, the particles distort spacetime via their mass, and this distortion is what is perceived and measured as a "force".[citation needed] In such a model one states that matter moves in certain ways in response to the curvature of spacetime,[2] and that there is either no gravitational force,[3] or that gravity is a fictitious force.[4]

Gravity is distinguished from other forces by its obedience to the equivalence principle.

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