Why does the earth orbit the sun rather than be pulled into it?

1 Answer
Jan 9, 2016

This is a very good question!


I'll try to give you a visual example first (not mine but from the master, I. Newton):


We can see that the object (in this case a bullet) fired from the mountain at #V# falls back on the surface of Earth being attracted by it (gravitational pull); BUT if the initial velocity is high enough (and no friction) it "will keep on falling" without ever reaching the surface (=orbiting).
On the other hand if the initial velocity is too high the bullet will spiral out and escape.

Transfer this to the Sun-Earth system; at the start of s8lar system formation Earth acquired enough velocity to continuously fall like the bullet.

Hope it helps.