How Many Different Types of Orbital Patterns Do Planets Have and What Are the Different Orbits Called?

There are three basic solar orbits: elliptical, parabolic, and hyperbolic.

Planets have elliptical orbits, bound by the force of the Sun’s gravity.

Elliptical orbits can be anywhere between almost circular and almost flat ovals.

If the speed of an object is equal to the Sun’s escape velocity, 380 miles, or 630 km per second, it will have a parabolic orbit.

It will swing in a relatively narrow arc around the Sun and then fly off into space.

An object with even greater speed than escape velocity will have a hyperbolic orbit.

Its arc around the Sun will be wide and then it, too, will fly off into space.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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