One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The closest distance from the center of a planet that a satellite can approach without being pulled apart by the planet's gravitational field.
- ‘The magic distance, within which a planet's tidal force exceeds the gravity holding together that kind of vagabond, is called the Roche limit - discovered by the nineteenth-century French astronomer Edouard Albert Roche.’
- ‘Phobos has a number of interesting surface features, including grooves that could be created by the gravity gradient of Mars - Phobos is within Mars's Roche limit - trying to tear the moon apart.’
- ‘At a certain distance near a planet, known as the Roche limit, an object can be literally pulled apart by gravity.’
- ‘Amalthea is not a rigid body, being inside the Roche limit; but its gravity is more than adequate to hold it together, being 6 times stronger than the forces pulling it apart.’
- ‘A collision which would have ejected material less than the Roche limit would have formed only rings around the earth.’
Late 19th century: named after Edouard Albert Roche (1820–83), French mathematician.
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