why does earth rotate on its own axis
As a father and a science lover I was dumbfounded when my 7yr old son asked me "What makes our earth turn (rotate)? He then asked "Did it start a long time ago and it just keeps turning or is something pushing it to turn"? How does the Earth continue to rotate around its axis? Where does the energy to keep it moving come from? Our everyday experience teaches us that an object must be "pushed" by a force in order to keep it moving. Otherwise, it will slow down and eventually stop. But this intuition is absolutely wrong. If an object is moving, then a force is required *to slow it down or stop it*, not to keep it moving. (Hence, "Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.
Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. ") In our everyday experience, it's the force of friction that tends to stop Earth-bound objects from moving forever. But for the Earth rotating on its axis, there is no force working to counteract the rotation (except the tidal effect of the Moon, but that's working very slowly), so you don't need to have any input energy to keep it spinning. What started the earth rotating in the first place? The shortest answer is angular momentum. Angular momentum is simply the name we give for the fact that things tend to rotate. (Just like regular momentum is the tendency for things to move. ) The Earth formed out of a nebula that collapsed.
As the nebula collapsed it began rotating, which may seem odd, but actually not rotating is far stranger than rotating. The Earth's rotation comes from the initial tendency to rotate that was imparted on it when it formed, only the relatively weak tidal forces from the Moon act to slow it down. This page was last updated on June 27, 2015.
But where did the initial angular momentum of the gas cloud that became the protoplanetary disk come from?
Well, it did not need to have a large scale coherent rotation as a whole, all it needed was to have different parts of the gas cloud moving in different (even random) directions. That would be enough to create some small amount of non-zero angular momentum which would eventually cause rapid rotation as gravity condenses the gas cloud to a protoplanetary disk (similar to when an ice skaters arm pulls arms in). The random initial velocities of different parts of the cloud were probably caused by nearby supernovae explosions, that led to the cloud to collapse in the first place.
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