Does Zero Gravity Exist in Space?

Chidi Akusobi October 2, 2010 47

We have all seen footage of astronauts floating freely in space, performing twists and turns that seem to defy gravity. As a result of these portrayals, many people believe that there is zero gravity in space. However, this statement could not be further from the truth. Gravity exists everywhere in the universe and is the most important force affecting all matter in space. In fact, without gravity, all matter would fly apart and everything would cease to exist.

Gravity is the attractive force between two objects at a fixed distance r. The strength of gravity is proportional to the mass of the two objects and inversely related the distance between them. A larger massed object has a greater gravitational force than a smaller massed object does which explains the difference between the gravitational field of the Earth and Moon. The force of gravity between two objects decreases rapidly at a rate of 1/r2. Thus, the gravitational force of two equal masses 1 meter apart is 100 times stronger than if the masses were 10 meters apart. Using the two parameters, mass and distance, we can understand how gravity operates in the universe and causes objects to appear as though they are experiencing zero gravity in space.

Earth’s gravitational pull is responsible for the moon’s orbit. Similarly, all planets, asteroids, and comets in our solar system orbit the sun due to this gravitational pull. The fact that celestial bodies millions of light years away orbit the sun debunks the myth of no gravity in space. The sun has a tremendous gravitational pull because it accounts for 99.86% of our solar system’s weight.

Why, then, are objects seemingly able to float freely in space despite the sun’s gravitational field? Remember, the force of gravity is dependent on the mass of two objects. The celestial bodies have enough mass to experience the gravitational pull of the sun. Objects with relatively little mass will experience less of the sun’s gravitational force than celestial bodies like Jupiter. In addition, small objects far from the sun experience a weaker gravitational force. Although gravity never reaches zero, it gets close.  

The premise of Einstein’s theory of general relativity can be used to explain gravity in space. Imagine the universe as a two-dimensional sheet that represents the space-time fabric. If one were to place a ball with mass m on this sheet, it would create a depression that alters the space-time fabric. This distortion in gravity changes the progression of an object that passes through the depression. A ball with mass 2m will create a bigger depression and thus have a greater force of gravity acting upon it. The further an object is from the ball, the less it will experience the distortion or the ball’s gravitational field. Einstein’s theory postulates that any object with mass distorts space time, including humans. Although we barely dent the sheet, we create a small gravitational field around us. As long as there is matter in space, there is gravity.

The infamous astronomical phenomenon known as the black hole illustrates just how important gravity is in space. A black hole is a region in space so compact that light cannot escape it. Black holes are formed by dying stars that collapse under their own weight and form a core that is infinitely dense. In Einstein’s two-dimensional sheet analogy, a black hole is so compact that it creates a hole in the space time fabric instead of a dent. Any particle or wave, including light, is trapped by the enormous gravitational pull the black hole creates. The presence of black holes directly opposes the notion of zero gravity in space.

If all mass creates gravity in space, how did the notion of zero gravity originate? It has undoubtedly been fostered by the experiences of astronauts in space who seem weightless and are consequently described as experiencing zero gravity. This explanation cannot be true, especially so close to earth, where the gravitational field is strong and constantly pulling the spacecraft towards it. To understand the astronomer’s experiences, it is important to distinguish “weightlessness” from “zero-gravity.” Astronauts feel weightless because their shuttle is in a state of continuous free fall to the earth. However, the space shuttle never falls to the earth because it is traveling horizontally at about 18,000 km/hr, opposing the force of gravity. If the spacecraft was not moving quickly enough, it would fall prey to the effects of earth’s gravitational field and fall to the earth.

There is no such thing as zero gravity in space. Gravity is everywhere in the universe and manifests itself in black holes, celestial orbits, ocean tides, and even our own weight.

47 Comments »

  1. Whiffs of Bliss April 6, 2011 at 10:25 PM - Reply

    Yes,

    Interestingly, Zero G is an illusion. Gravity is everywhere in spacetime; it is the cosmic glue that holds the entire universe together. This is truly the Law of Attraction in Action!

  2. Herman Heine August 3, 2011 at 9:00 PM - Reply

    If the space shuttle is in a free fall to earth and that is why the astronauts feel weightlees, is the earth in a free fall to the sun? Is the moon in a free fall to the earth? If the earth slowed down would it fall into the sun?

    • steven sierzant October 25, 2011 at 5:23 AM - Reply

      Yes lests try a different example does gravity exist on a two dimensional plane

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:23 PM - Reply

      Correct

    • Vignesh September 21, 2013 at 2:55 AM - Reply

      Yes Herman Heine.. The reason for planets stay in and maintain their own orbits is becoz of its orbital speed around d sun. In vacuum there’s no considerable drag other than solar pressure. So the speed remains as it is and so the distance of planets frm sun. If by chance, sun’s mass increases or earth’s orbital velocity decreases, the earth will fall into d sun.

  3. steven sierzant October 25, 2011 at 5:26 AM - Reply

    If so explain 2d an how it relates to gravity without explaining what 2d is in a 3d world

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:26 PM - Reply

      2d reality does not exist and your question is thus arbitrary in relation to factual descriptions and explanations

  4. king hunter May 3, 2012 at 12:19 AM - Reply

    gravity exists due to mass. what if there is only a single body of mass in a particular given volume and not influenced by any other? what will happen? wud it fall down bcoz of gravity?

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:28 PM - Reply

      Your own body creats it’s own gravity force field – however, if all the universe had only your body you would simply stay put – there would be nothing to fall to or from

  5. ayush thakur June 7, 2012 at 6:48 PM - Reply

    there cant exist zero gravity bcz we overall consider the visible mass creating a force ……….bt our space time has no complete vaccum…….dark matter too posses gravity….its only gravity in itself a weak fundamental force which is the reason an observer feel an illusion of 0 gravity.

  6. ayush thakur June 7, 2012 at 6:50 PM - Reply

    and steven sierzant u demanded fr a 3d model space time is in itself a 4d model………3 dimensions of space and one dimension is time itself

  7. Eric November 4, 2012 at 7:12 AM - Reply

    Consider the precise nature of c=mc^2

    To be universally precise, a basic requirement is connectedness.

    Therefore if relativity is part of any observable, than all of the universe is connected by relativity.

    Therefore, at no point in the universe is there nothing. At no point in the universe is gravity equal to zero.

    Quantum Entangled Systems deals with these relationships at length.

    Ref: Search “Building Universes” sbwire

    • Eric November 4, 2012 at 7:13 AM - Reply

      E=mc^2
      where is the edit button when you need it :.)

  8. mike November 13, 2012 at 11:14 PM - Reply

    If gravity is real in the sense that ALL things have gravity if they have mass, and I possess enough energy to temporarily resist gravity (and jump 3 ft into the air) why can’t the pyramids or the empire state building even cause enough pull to the extent that I can feel it, while a small magnet can? Is it possible that there exists “potential gravity” and “kinetic gravity” and the only reason planets have gravity is because they have an electromagnetic field?

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:33 PM - Reply

      No. And your analogy with the magnet is incompatible as the magnetic force is much much stronger than the weak force of gravity, and also completely different.

  9. Tina November 18, 2012 at 9:26 AM - Reply

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  10. innocent December 21, 2012 at 1:07 PM - Reply

    zero gravity, yes. at the points where the vector sum of gravity due to all masses is zero

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:35 PM - Reply

      So you disagree with Einsteins model, as according to him such a situation is not and will never be possible

  11. Emmett Smith January 19, 2013 at 3:35 AM - Reply

    Everything exists as a pressure system. Gravity is simply a pressure system that is created every where in the universe as vacuums attempt to be formed. Neither space nor gravity exist outside of the universe. Things in space such as stars, planets, asteroids, etc, are also pressure systems, higher pressure systems than space, that were formed by gravity as gravity shifted space to prevent vacuums from being formed. Everything larger than a particle of light or particle of energy, including atoms, was created by gravity. What we think of as gravity is something that pulls our feet firmly to the ground but gravity is actually a space shift to prevent a vacuum from being formed on the surface and pushing us to the ground as it shifts. The speed of gravity can only equal the rate of compression of the object trying to create a vacuum and causing gravity thus, it is fairly constant. Space exists everywhere ready to shift to prevent a vacuum. When it shifts, it is gravity. In the even that there are no space shifts, gravity is latent. Zero gravity only exists outside of the universe where there is nothing and no space shift. Without gravity, there would be no universe and no space.

  12. leaper April 22, 2013 at 2:41 AM - Reply

    ” A larger massed object has a greater gravitational force than a smaller massed object does which explains the difference between the gravitational field of the Earth and Moon”

    This is a wrong statement!

    The gravitational force between two objects is always the same. Basically the gravitational pull from moon to earth is the same as the one from earth to moon!

  13. leaper April 22, 2013 at 2:46 AM - Reply

    F = G . (m1.m2)
    ————
    r^2

    F does not vary with respect to the object1 or object2.

    • Jonathan Liang April 22, 2013 at 2:56 AM - Reply

      You’re correct that the gravitational force between two objects is the same on both objects. However, given an object A of a fixed mass and two objects B and C at equal distances from A, where B is more massive than C, the gravitational force exerted by B on A is greater than the force exerted by C on A.

      Another way to state the same thing is that the gravitational field of B has a greater magnitude than that of C (again assuming a point that is the same distance from B and C). Gravitational field = Gm/r^2, so there is a definite dependence on object mass.

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  21. sibi May 29, 2013 at 3:09 PM - Reply

    For me Gravity doesn’t exist,I believe that Gravity is not a pull from the matter itself, but it is push that exist every where in the universe either from dark matter or from some sort of lines of forces exist equally in all direction, the same force is holding the galaxies in position.the same force is behind the expansion of universe. if all the heavenly bodies are attracting each other,universe cannot exist .

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:41 PM - Reply

      Only true if there would be no other forces at play. And there is.

  22. Edster June 23, 2013 at 12:18 PM - Reply

    I was enjoying the article until I got to the “Einstein” part. I think you probably need to restate is as Hendrik Lorentz’s Transformation theory.

    For a guy that couldn’t get past being a clerk (third class) at a patent office, he sure gets smarter every year, doesn’t he?

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:47 PM - Reply

      Or Hermann Minkowski.

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:50 PM - Reply

      Or Henri Poincaré

    • JVST July 24, 2013 at 5:51 PM - Reply

      … and other giants which shoulders one can stan on ;-)

  23. Rob July 27, 2013 at 5:56 AM - Reply

    so…now you idiots repeat all the same crap outlined in this article? Why? Trying to sound intelligent by repeating the obvious? get a life…lmao

  24. kolton November 14, 2013 at 4:24 PM - Reply

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  25. Vinit Garg December 12, 2013 at 7:39 AM - Reply

    If we find out zero gravity in space where time machine is stop. Nothing change in object if we place the object at that place. Even moving of electron stop their. It is possible only where any object is furthermore breakable or like a soul because this is truth that soul never impact with time. Soul always exits in zero gravity in universe only we are unable to find zero gravity right now.

    • JVST August 18, 2014 at 9:23 AM - Reply

      There are other forces than gravity. What you speculate is a situation where the other forces too do not apply and that spells doom. The nature of gravity is inherent in the space-time continuum, and thusly the place you speak of must be outside of this space-time continuum. In other words; not within our universe.

  26. STS09 January 2, 2014 at 8:55 AM - Reply

    OMG! What a load of ****!
    Did you personally check all of the universe? Or you are just assuming? Lol.

    • JVST August 18, 2014 at 9:13 AM - Reply

      Science is based upon what can be observed and deduced. You are correct in the sense that we are only as sure as our data permits. So, upon the discovery or a part of space where there are different law of physics, this would certainly change the headline. However, as of yet neither observations nor data supports the possibility of such a place. So, deduced from all our knowledge through histroy thus far, we can say with certainty that the concept of zero gravity is based upon a popular misunderstanding space and time.

  27. Anonymous February 19, 2014 at 7:30 PM - Reply

    I don’t think there is zero gravity.

    • Anonymous February 19, 2014 at 7:31 PM - Reply

      Unless it’s inside a black hole or if it’s real a wormhole.

      • JVST August 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM - Reply

        Incorrect. Gravity is at its maximum in black holes, and although our science can only observe to the horizon of a black hole, our knowledge of gravity tells us it increases nearer the centre one might fall. In other words, inside black holes one is as far from zero gravity as we can imagine. A wormhole too will experience gravity as its very definition is based upon bending the space-time continuum in which gravity lives. There is no escaping gravity in our known universe.

  28. Mike August 31, 2014 at 3:45 AM - Reply

    If you take a look at electromagnetic radiation you notice that the electromagnetic force, field and current is on 3 planes. With the force of gravity on 4d space we are sitting on one of the planes. That means that there are 2 other forces we can never touch. One way to get to another plane is to go infinity small to zero and flip to negative.

  29. Mike August 31, 2014 at 4:00 AM - Reply

    Comment again. What is interesting on the subatomic level is finding the interaction that causes gravity. On the smallest level matter its self could be vibrating between existing and not existing.

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