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Question
The existence of the dwarf planet Pluto was proposed based on irregularities in Neptune's orbit. Pluto was subsequently discovered near its predicted position. But it now appears that the discovery was fortuitous, because Pluto is small and the irregularities in Neptune's orbit were not well known. To illustrate that Pluto has a minor effect on the orbit of Neptune compared with the closest planet to Neptune: (a) Calculate the acceleration due to gravity at Neptune due to Pluto when they are $4.50\times 10^{12}\textrm{ m}$ apart, as they are at present. The mass of Pluto is $1.4\times 10^{22}\textrm{ kg}$. (b) Calculate the acceleration due to gravity at Neptune due to Uranus, presently about $2.50\times 10^{12}\textrm{ m}$ apart, and compare it with that due to Pluto. The mass of Uranus is $8.62\times 10^{25}\textrm{ kg}$.
Question by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Final Answer
  1. $4.6\times 10^{-14}\textrm{ m/s}^2$
  2. $9.2\times 10^{-10}\textrm{ m/s}^2$
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OpenStax College Physics Solution, Chapter 6, Problem 40 (Problems & Exercises) (1:04)

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