acceleration, secular

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A continuous and non-periodic change in orbital velocity of one body around another, or the axial rotation period of a body.

An example is the axial rotation of the Earth. This is gradually slowing down owing to the gravitational effects of the Moon and the resulting production of tides, which have a frictional effect on the Earth. However, the angular momentum of the Earth–Moon system is maintained, because the momentum lost by the Earth is passed to the Moon. This results in an increase in the Moon's orbital period and a consequential moving away from the Earth. The overall effect is that the Earth's axial rotation period is increasing by about 15 millionths of a second per year, and the Moon is receding from the Earth at about 4 cm per year.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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