Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which all physical bodies attract each other. It is most commonly recognized and experienced as the agent that gives weight to physical objects, and causes physical objects to fall toward the ground when dropped from a height.
It is hypothesized that the gravitational force is mediated by a massless spin-2 particle called the graviton. Gravity is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, along with electromagnetism, and the nuclear strong force and weak force. Colloquially, gravitation is a force of attraction that acts between and on all physical objects with matter (mass) or energy. In modern physics, gravitation is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity proposed by Einstein, which asserts that the phenomenon of gravitation is a consequence of the curvature of spacetime. In pursuit of a theory of everything, the merging of general relativity and quantum mechanics (or quantum field theory) into a more general theory of quantum gravity has become an area of active research. Newton’s law of universal gravitation postulates that the gravitational force of two bodies of mass is directly proportional to the product of the their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. It provides an accurate approximation for most physical situations including spacecraft trajectory. Newton’s laws of motion are also based on the influence of gravity, encompassing three physical laws that lay down the foundations for classical mechanics.
During the grand unification epoch, gravity separated from the electronuclear force. Gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental forces, and appears to have unlimited range (unlike the strong or weak force). The gravitational force is approximately 10-38 times the strength of the strong force (i.e., gravity is 38 orders of magnitude weaker), 10-36 times the strength of the electromagnetic force, and 10-29 times the strength of the weak force. As a consequence, gravity has a negligible influence on the behavior of sub-atomic particles, and plays no role in determining the internal properties of everyday matter. On the other hand, gravity is the dominant force at the macroscopic scale , that is the cause of the formation, shape, and trajectory (orbit) of astronomical bodies, including those of asteroids, comets, planets, stars, and galaxies. It is responsible for causing the Earth and the other planets to orbit the Sun; for causing the Moon to orbit the Earth; for the formation of tides; for natural convection, by which fluid flow occurs under the influence of a density gradient and gravity; for heating the interiors of forming stars and planets to very high temperatures; for solar system, galaxy, stellar formation and evolution; and for various other phenomena observed on Earth and throughout the universe. This is the case for several reasons: gravity is the only force acting on all particles with mass; it has an infinite range; always attractive and never repulsive; and cannot be absorbed, transformed, or shielded against. Even though electromagnetism is far stronger than gravity, electromagnetism is not relevant to astronomical objects, since such bodies have an equal number of protons and electrons that cancel out (i.e., a net electric charge of zero).