tidal force

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The ability of a massive body to raise tides on another body. Tidal force depends on the mass of the tide-raising body and the distance between the two bodies. Tidal forces can bring about the destruction of a satellite orbiting a planet or a comet approaching too close to the Sun or a planet. When the orbiting body crosses the Roche limit, tidal forces across the body are stronger than the cohesive forces holding the body together. See also tidal friction; tidal heating.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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