Warped spacetime affects the planet’s motion in several ways
The calculation of Mercury’s orbit is being tweaked — for a second time. And it’s all thanks to Albert Einstein.
Before the famous physicist came up with his theory of gravity, known as the general theory of relativity, scientists’ predictions for Mercury’s motions were slightly off: The planet’s orbit disagreed with expectations. When Einstein realized that general relativity accounted for the mismatch, it was the first sign his theory was right (SN: 10/17/15, p. 16).
Now, physicist Clifford Will has calculated another effect of general relativity on Mercury’s orbit, he reports in a paper accepted in Physical Review Letters. The effect is too subtle to have been detected in observations so far.