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Gravity Well

A gravity well or gravitational well is a conceptual model of the gravitational field surrounding a body in space – the more massive the body, the deeper and more extensive the gravity well associated with it. The Sun is very massive, relative to other bodies in the Solar System, so the corresponding gravity well that surrounds it appears "deep" and far-reaching. The gravity wells of asteroids and small moons, conversely, are often depicted as very shallow. Anything on the surface of a planet or moon is considered to be at the bottom of that celestial body's gravity well, and so escaping the effects of gravity from such a planet or moon (to enter outer space) is sometimes called "climbing out of the gravity well". The deeper a gravity well is, the more energy any space-bound "climber" must use to escape it. In astrophysics, a gravity well is specifically the gravitational potential field around a massive body. Other types of potential wells include electrical and magnetic potential wells. Physical models of gravity wells are sometimes used to illustrate orbital mechanics. Gravity wells are frequently confused with embedding diagrams used in general relativity theory, but the two concepts are distinctly separate, and not directly related.