# Amazing Gravitational Energy Facts For The Physicist In You!

Oct 27, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on May 02, 2022
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Do you know what gravitational energy is?

Do you know how it is created? Gravitational energy is one of the most fascinating and mysterious forms of energy in the universe.

In this article, we will discover some amazing facts about gravitational energy that will amaze and astound you!

So, what are you waiting for? Read on and learn all you need to know about gravitational energy.

### Gravity

Gravity is the external force that attracts objects toward the center of the Earth. Gravitational force is one of the four fundamental forces in physics, along with electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force.

The strength of gravity depends on two factors: mass and distance. The more mass an object has, the stronger its gravitational pull will be. The closer two objects get to one another, the stronger their gravitational attraction will be.

Gravity is what makes it possible for us to stand on Earth and not fly off into space! Without gravity, we would be pulled towards the sun by its strong gravitational force. The moon also has gravity, which is why it orbits around Earth.

There are a few other things that affect gravity besides mass and distance. For example, the shape of an object can influence its gravitational pull.

Spherical objects have a stronger gravitational pull than non-spherical objects. Also, the density of an object affects how strongly it attracts other objects. More dense objects have a stronger gravitational pull than less dense objects.

### Potential Energy And Kinetic Energy

The total mechanical energy of an object is the sum of its potential and kinetic energy.

Potential energy refers to the stored energy of an object due to its position or configuration.

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion of an object and can be calculated by taking the product of an object's mass and its velocity, squared.

When an object is at rest, it has potential energy. When the object begins to move, that potential energy becomes kinetic energy. The greater an object's mass, the more potential or kinetic energy it has. For example, a bullet fired from a gun has much more kinetic energy than a rock thrown by hand.

An interesting application of these concepts is on roller coasters. At the top of a large hill, a roller coaster has potential energy.

As the cart falls down the hill, it speeds up and its potential energy becomes kinetic energy. When the car is at ground level again (at rest), all of its kinetic energy has become thermal energy and can be felt as heat on your skin or in loud noises.

### Gravitational Potential Energy

The gravitational potential energy of an object refers to the work that needs to be done to move the object from a certain point in space to infinity.

The gravitational potential energy at any given point is equal to the product of the mass of the object and the gravitational constant, multiplied by the height difference between the two points.

This can be useful for calculations, such as finding out how much power a machine needs to generate in order to lift an object, or how far an object will travel if it's released from a certain height.

The Earth's gravity isn't the only thing that affects gravitational potential energy though; other objects in space also contribute.

For example, the sun has a much greater gravitational force than Earth and so its gravitational potential energy is much higher. This means that if you were to move away from Earth and towards the sun, your gravitational potential energy would increase even though your kinetic energy (the energy of motion) would stay the same.

In contrast, if you moved away from the sun and closer to Earth, your gravitational potential energy would decrease even though your kinetic energy would stay the same.

This is because the sun's gravitational force is weaker as you get further away from it. The farther an object is from the source of the gravitational force, the weaker that force becomes.

Also, it is important to remember that gravitational potential energy is just one type of potential energy. Other types of potential energy include elastic potential energy and chemical potential energy.

All three types of potential energy are based on the same principle; if you move an object from one point to another, the impact on that object changes its energy.

However, each type of potential energy relies on a different kind of interaction between objects. Gravitational potential energy relies on the attraction between masses, elastic potential energy relies on the stretching or compression of objects, and chemical potential energy relies on the exchange of particles (atoms or molecules) between objects.

### Causes And Examples Of Gravitational Energy

There are a few things that cause gravitational energy.

One is the movement of the masses. The more mass a particular area contains, the greater the gravitational force will be.

Another cause is when objects are in motion. The faster they're moving, the more gravitational force they have.

Lastly, gravity can be created through collisions between particles. When two particles collide, they create a small explosion of energy that creates a gravitational field.

Some examples of where a gravitational field can be found include black holes, neutron stars, and galaxies. Black holes have such a powerful gravitational pull that not even light can escape from them. This causes everything around them to get sucked in until it's crushed into nothingness.

Neutron stars are extremely dense; so much so that their gravitational force rips apart atoms and molecules, leaving nothing behind but neutrons.

Galaxies in the universe are made up of millions, possibly even billions, of stars which all exert gravity on each other. If two galaxies collide together, they create a big bang.

### FAQs

What is gravitational energy used for?

Gravitational energy is used to calculate how much work it would take to lift a heavy object to a certain height with gravitational forces acting upon it.

What causes gravitational energy?

Gravitational energy is the energy created in an object by the pull of the Earth on it. The object should ideally be situated at a height, where it gains potential energy.

What type of energy is gravitational?

It is the energy that an object has in relation to another object due to gravity.

Is gravitational energy infinite?

No, gravitational energy is not infinite.

Does everything have gravitational potential energy?

An object will only have gravitational potential energy if it is located at a height above zero.

Why is gravitational force negative?

Gravitational force is negative as we are calculating how much force is needed for an object to exit the gravitational foil of the Earth, which is the opposite of gravity.

What does gravitational potential energy depend on?

Gravitational potential energy depends on the mass of an object and how far above the ground it is.

In which case is there an increase in gravitational potential energy?

The gravitational potential energy of an object increases with its mass and distance above the ground.

Do heavier objects have more gravitational potential energy?

Yes, heavier objects have more gravitational potential energy than smaller ones.

What is the gravitational potential energy at the center of the Earth?

The gravitational potential energy at the center of the Earth is zero.

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## Sources

https://www.solarschools.net/knowledge-bank/energy/types/gravitational

https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-physics/chapter/gravitational-potential-energy/

https://eartheclipse.com/energy/potential-energy-types-facts.html