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speed of gravity

The speed of gravity is the rate, in meters per second or other standard units, at which gravitational fields or effects propagate through space. According to classical (Newtonian) physics, the speed of gravity is infinite. However, Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity predicts that the speed of gravity cannot exceed the speed of light in a vacuum , or approximately 2.99792 x 10 8 meters per second.

Scientists have conducted various experiments and performed calculations in an attempt to determine the speed of gravity, and also to find out whether or not that speed is influenced by conditions such as acceleration, gravitational field intensity, or electromagnetic field s. Some experiments and theoretical derivations have reached the conclusion that the speed of gravity is many times that of light. But the results of an experiment in September of 2002, conducted by observing the energy from a distant quasar as it passed the planet Jupiter, suggest that the speed of gravity is the same as the speed of light.

Is the speed of light the "cosmic speed limit"? If not, what can propagate faster? Apparently, final answers to these questions have not yet been found, and experiments will continue.

This was last updated in September 2005

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