The Physics Of The Universe

Can Earth’s Gravity break The Moon Apart?

No, Earth's gravity cannot break the Moon apart. The reason for this lies in a concept known as the Roche limit. Named after French astronomer Édouard Roche, this limit refers to the minimum distance at which a celestial body, held together only by its gravity, will disintegrate due to a second celestial body's tidal forces exceeding the first body's gravitational self-attraction.

In simpler terms, if the Moon were to get too close to the Earth, the gravitational forces from the Earth could pull it apart. However, our Moon is well outside Earth's Roche limit. The Moon is about 385,000 kilometers away from Earth, while the Roche limit for a body the size of the Moon is approximately 9,492 kilometers. Therefore, there is no risk of the Moon getting close enough for Earth's gravity to break it apart.

In fact, the Moon is slowly drifting away from the Earth at an average rate of 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) per year, a phenomenon confirmed by laser measurements from mirrors left on the lunar surface by Apollo missions. So, the Moon is not in danger of getting close enough to be torn apart by Earth's gravity. Instead, it's gradually moving further away.

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