Mercury orbit hypotheses, 19th century

Mercury orbit hypotheses, 19th century

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Mercury orbit hypotheses. 19th-century artwork of theories to explain the precession of the planet Mercury (centre left) as it orbits the Sun (bottom right). One theory was that this was caused by an undiscovered plant closer to the Sun (Vulcan, centre right). This was proposed by French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier (1811-1877). Another theory, that of US-Canadian astronomer Simon Newcomb (1835-1909), suggested the cause was an asteroid belt near Mercury. The precession was correctly explained by Einstein's general relativity (1916). Artwork from the 15th volume (first period of 1895) of the French popular science weekly 'La Science Illustree'.

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