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About The Ellipse In Your Question

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on April 15, 2002 20:16:24 UTC

Hi Scott,

***What is the other focus of the ellipse if the sun is at 1 focus?***

If your question had asked, "Where is the other focus?" then there is a relatively easy answer. It is a point in space in the plane of the orbit which is symmetrical to the position of the Sun with respect to the minor axis of the ellipse.

But you asked "What is the other focus...". Are you asking, "What, if anything, would you find at that point in space?"? If so, then the answer would be something like, mostly vacuum but some passing radiation and maybe some particles. The important thing is that you wouldn't find anything at that second focus that you wouldn't find anywhere else within a million miles of it.

I think that what you are getting at is that a a two-body gravitational system is strangely asymmetric. How come?

Well, since the masses of the two bodies are asymmetric, maybe that's what you would expect.

Or,...maybe you were suggesting that there might be an imaginary body at that other focus. Maybe we should look there for some evidence of structure outside of our 3-D space. I don't know.

If I haven't hit upon the point of your concern, let me know and I'll try again.

Warm regards,

Paul

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