Tidal force

# Tidal force

Overview
The tidal force is a secondary effect of the force
Force
In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. In other words, a force is that which can cause an object with mass to change its velocity , i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform...

of gravity and is responsible for the tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

s. It arises because the gravitational force per unit mass exerted on one body by a second body is not constant across its diameter
Diameter
In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. The diameters are the longest chords of the circle...

, the side nearest to the second being more attracted by it than the side farther away. Stated differently, the tidal force is a differential force. Consider three things being pulled by the moon: the oceans nearest the moon, the solid earth, and the oceans farthest from the moon.
Discussion

Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
The tidal force is a secondary effect of the force
Force
In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. In other words, a force is that which can cause an object with mass to change its velocity , i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform...

of gravity and is responsible for the tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

s. It arises because the gravitational force per unit mass exerted on one body by a second body is not constant across its diameter
Diameter
In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. The diameters are the longest chords of the circle...

, the side nearest to the second being more attracted by it than the side farther away. Stated differently, the tidal force is a differential force. Consider three things being pulled by the moon: the oceans nearest the moon, the solid earth, and the oceans farthest from the moon. The moon pulls on the solid earth, but it pulls harder on the near oceans, so they approach the moon more causing a high tide; and the moon pulls least of all on the far oceans (on the other side of the planet), so they stay behind more, causing another high tide at the same time. If we imagine looking at the Earth from space, we see that the whole Earth was pulled, but the near oceans more and the far oceans less; the far oceans stayed behind since they are pulled less (since they are farther away).

In a more general usage in celestial mechanics
Celestial mechanics
Celestial mechanics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the motions of celestial objects. The field applies principles of physics, historically classical mechanics, to astronomical objects such as stars and planets to produce ephemeris data. Orbital mechanics is a subfield which focuses on...

, the expression 'tidal force' can refer to a situation in which a body or material (for example, tidal water, or the Moon) is mainly under the gravitational influence of a second body (for example, the Earth), but is also perturbed by the gravitational effects of a third body (for example, by the Moon in the case of tidal water, or by the Sun in the case of the Moon). The perturbing force is sometimes in such cases called a tidal force (for example, the perturbing force on the Moon): it is the difference between the force exerted by the third body on the second and the force exerted by the third body on the first.

## Explanation

When a body (body 1) is acted on by the gravity of another body (body 2), the field can vary significantly on body 1 between the side of the body facing body 2 and the side facing away from body 2. Figure 2 shows the differential force of gravity on a spherical body (body 1) exerted by another body (body 2). These so called tidal forces cause strains on both bodies and may distort them or even, in extreme cases, break one or the other apart. The Roche limit
Roche limit
The Roche limit , sometimes referred to as the Roche radius, is the distance within which a celestial body, held together only by its own gravity, will disintegrate due to a second celestial body's tidal forces exceeding the first body's gravitational self-attraction...

is the distance from a planet at which tidal effects would cause an object to disintegrate because the differential force of gravity from the planet overcomes the attraction of the parts of the object for one another. These strains would not occur if the gravitational field were uniform, because a uniform field
Field (physics)
In physics, a field is a physical quantity associated with each point of spacetime. A field can be classified as a scalar field, a vector field, a spinor field, or a tensor field according to whether the value of the field at each point is a scalar, a vector, a spinor or, more generally, a tensor,...

only causes the entire body to accelerate together in the same direction and at the same rate.

## Effects of tidal forces

In the case of an infinitesimally small elastic sphere, the effect of a tidal force is to distort the shape of the body without any change in volume. The sphere becomes an ellipsoid with two bulges, pointing towards and away from the other body. Larger objects distort into an ovoid, and are slightly compressed, this is approximately what happens to the Earth's oceans under the action of the Moon. The Earth and Moon rotate about their common center of mass or barycenter, and their gravitational attraction provides the centripetal force
Centripetal force
Centripetal force is a force that makes a body follow a curved path: it is always directed orthogonal to the velocity of the body, toward the instantaneous center of curvature of the path. The mathematical description was derived in 1659 by Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens...

necessary to maintain this motion. To an observer on the Earth, very close to this barycenter, the situation is one of the Earth as body 1 acted upon by the gravity of the Moon as body 2. All parts of the Earth are subject to the Moon's gravitational forces, causing the water in the oceans to redistribute, forming bulges on the sides near the Moon and far from the Moon.

When a body rotates while subject to tidal forces, internal friction results in the gradual dissipation of its rotational kinetic energy as heat. If the body is close enough to its primary, this can result in a rotation which is tidally locked to the orbital motion, as in the case of the Earth's moon. Tidal heating produces dramatic volcanic effects on Jupiter's moon Io
Io (moon)
Io ) is the innermost of the four Galilean moons of the planet Jupiter and, with a diameter of , the fourth-largest moon in the Solar System. It was named after the mythological character of Io, a priestess of Hera who became one of the lovers of Zeus....

. Stresses caused by tidal forces also cause a regular monthly pattern of moonquakes on Earth's Moon.

Tidal forces contribute to ocean currents, which moderate global temperatures by transporting heat energy toward the poles. It has been suggested that in addition to other factors, harmonic beat
Beat (acoustics)
In acoustics, a beat is an interference between two sounds of slightly different frequencies, perceived as periodic variations in volume whose rate is the difference between the two frequencies....

variations in tidal forcing may contribute to climate changes.

Tidal effects become particularly pronounced near small bodies of high mass, such as neutron star
Neutron star
A neutron star is a type of stellar remnant that can result from the gravitational collapse of a massive star during a Type II, Type Ib or Type Ic supernova event. Such stars are composed almost entirely of neutrons, which are subatomic particles without electrical charge and with a slightly larger...

s or black hole
Black hole
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

s, where they are responsible for the "spaghettification
Spaghettification
In astrophysics, spaghettification is the vertical stretching and horizontal compression of objects into long thin shapes in a very strong gravitational field, and is caused by extreme tidal forces...

" of infalling matter. Tidal forces create the oceanic tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

of Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's oceans, where the attracting bodies are the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

and, to a lesser extent, the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

.

Tidal forces are also responsible for tidal locking
Tidal locking
Tidal locking occurs when the gravitational gradient makes one side of an astronomical body always face another; for example, the same side of the Earth's Moon always faces the Earth. A tidally locked body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner...

and tidal acceleration
Tidal acceleration
Tidal acceleration is an effect of the tidal forces between an orbiting natural satellite , and the primary planet that it orbits . The "acceleration" is usually negative, as it causes a gradual slowing and recession of a satellite in a prograde orbit away from the primary, and a corresponding...

.

## Mathematical treatment

For a given (externally-generated) gravitational field, the tidal acceleration at a point with respect to a body is obtained by vectorially subtracting the gravitational acceleration at the center of the body (due to the given externally-generated field) from the gravitational acceleration (due to the same field) at the given point. Correspondingly, the term tidal force is used to describe the forces due to tidal acceleration. Note that for these purposes the only gravitational field considered is the external one; the gravitational field of the body (as shown in the graphic) is not relevant. (In other words the comparison is with the conditions at the given point as they would be if there were no externally-generated field acting unequally at the given point and at the center of the reference body. The externally-generated field is usually that produced by a perturbing third body, often the Sun or the Moon in the frequent example-cases of points on or above the Earth's surface in a geocentric reference frame.).

Tidal acceleration does not require rotation or orbiting bodies; for example, the body may be freefalling in a straight line under the influence of a gravitational field while still being influenced by (changing) tidal acceleration.

By Newton's law of universal gravitation
Newton's law of universal gravitation
Newton's law of universal gravitation states that every point mass in the universe attracts every other point mass with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them...

and laws of motion, a body of mass m a distance R from the center of a sphere of mass M feels a force equivalent to an acceleration , where:
. . . , and . . . . . . ,

where is a unit vector pointing from the body M to the body m (here, acceleration from m towards M has negative sign).

Consider now the acceleration due to the sphere of mass M experienced by a particle in the vicinity of the body of mass m. With R as the distance from the center of M to the center of m, let ∆r be the (relatively small) distance of this other particle from the center of the body of mass m. For simplicity, distances are first considered only in the direction pointing towards or away from the sphere of mass M. If the body of mass m is itself a sphere of radius ∆r, then the new particle considered may be located on its surface, at a distance (R ± ∆r) from the centre of the sphere of mass M, and ∆r may be taken as positive where the particle's distance from M is greater than R. Leaving aside whatever gravitational acceleration may be experienced by the particle towards m on account of ms own mass, we have the acceleration on the particle due to gravitational force towards M as:

Pulling out the R2 term from the denominator gives:

The Maclaurin series of 1/(1 + x)2 is 1 – 2x + 3x2 – ..., which gives a series expansion of:

The first term is the gravitational acceleration due to M at the center of the reference body , i.e. at the point where is zero. This term does not affect the observed acceleration of particles on the surface of m because with respect to M, m (and everything on its surface) is in free fall. Effectively, this first term cancels. The remaining (residual) terms represent the difference mentioned above and are tidal force (acceleration) terms. Where ∆r, is small compared to R, the first of the tidal acceleration terms is usually much more significant than the others, giving for the tidal acceleration (axial) for the distances ∆r considered, along the axis joining the centers of m and M:
(axial)

When calculated in this way for the case where ∆r is a distance along the axis joining the centers of m and M, is directed outwards, relative to the center of m where ∆r is zero. Tidal accelerations can also be calculated away from the axis connecting the bodies m and M, requiring a vector calculation. In the plane perpendicular to that axis, the tidal acceleration is directed inwards (towards the center where ∆r is zero), and its magnitude is (axial) in linear approximation as in Figure 2.

The tidal accelerations at the surface of planets in the Solar System are generally very small. For example, the lunar tidal acceleration at the Earth's surface along the Moon-Earth axis is about 1.1 × 10−7 g, while the solar tidal acceleration at the Earth's surface along the Sun-Earth axis is about 0.52 × 10−7 g, where g is the gravitational acceleration
Standard gravity
Standard gravity, or standard acceleration due to free fall, usually denoted by g0 or gn, is the nominal acceleration of an object in a vacuum near the surface of the Earth. It is defined as precisely , or about...

at the Earth's surface. Modern estimates put the size of the tide-raising force (acceleration) due to the Sun at about 45% of that due to the Moon. The solar tidal acceleration at the Earth's surface was first given by Newton in the 'Principia'

## Relation with non-uniform centripetal force

If a secondary body orbits a primary body, the forces that could tear the second body apart if its strength and internal gravity are not enough, are the tidal force and the "centrifugal force
Centrifugal force
Centrifugal force can generally be any force directed outward relative to some origin. More particularly, in classical mechanics, the centrifugal force is an outward force which arises when describing the motion of objects in a rotating reference frame...

" associated with any rotation of the secondary body about its axis. In the case of synchronous rotation
Synchronous rotation
In astronomy, synchronous rotation is a planetological term describing a body orbiting another, where the orbiting body takes as long to rotate on its axis as it does to make one orbit; and therefore always keeps the same hemisphere pointed at the body it is orbiting...

with the secondary body much smaller than the primary, on the line through the centers of the two bodies this "centrifugal force" adds 50% to the tidal force. See also Roche limit
Roche limit
The Roche limit , sometimes referred to as the Roche radius, is the distance within which a celestial body, held together only by its own gravity, will disintegrate due to a second celestial body's tidal forces exceeding the first body's gravitational self-attraction...

.

• Tidal resonance
Tidal resonance
In oceanography, a tidal resonance occurs when the tide excites one of the resonant modes of the ocean.The effect is most striking when a continental shelf is about a quarter wavelength wide...

• Roche limit
Roche limit
The Roche limit , sometimes referred to as the Roche radius, is the distance within which a celestial body, held together only by its own gravity, will disintegrate due to a second celestial body's tidal forces exceeding the first body's gravitational self-attraction...

• Tidal locking
Tidal locking
Tidal locking occurs when the gravitational gradient makes one side of an astronomical body always face another; for example, the same side of the Earth's Moon always faces the Earth. A tidally locked body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner...

• Tidal acceleration
Tidal acceleration
Tidal acceleration is an effect of the tidal forces between an orbiting natural satellite , and the primary planet that it orbits . The "acceleration" is usually negative, as it causes a gradual slowing and recession of a satellite in a prograde orbit away from the primary, and a corresponding...

• Galactic tide
Galactic tide
A galactic tide is a tidal force experienced by objects subject to the gravitational field of a galaxy such as the Milky Way. Particular areas of interest concerning galactic tides include galactic collisions, the disruption of dwarf or satellite galaxies, and the Milky Way's tidal effect on the...