Q:

What is the shape of the Earth?

A:

Quick Answer

The shape of the Earth is classified as an ellipsoid or an oblate spheroid. The Earth is not considered a true sphere because it has a larger circumference and diameter at the equator. The poles of the Earth are squished, which creates a slight bulge around the equator.

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Full Answer

Gravity is a force that causes planets to form the shape of a sphere by pulling the mass of the planet close to the center of gravity. In the case of the Earth, gravity pulls the planet as close to the core as possible. The sphere-like shape of the Earth is distorted slightly by the centrifugal force of its rotation. This force causes the mass of the planet to move away from the center of gravity, which is located at the equator. For that reason, there is a minor outward bulge at the equator, creating a larger circumference and diameter.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How did the Earth begin?

    A:

    Scientists agree that the Earth formed about 4.6 billion years ago out of accreted matter from the solar nebula. All planets in the solar system formed the same way. Once the proto-Earth was formed, many changes occurred over vast timescales to produce the Earth of the 21st century.

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  • Q:

    What is the volume of the Earth?

    A:

    The volume of the Earth is 1.44 x 10^21 cubic yards or 2.63 x 10^10 cubic miles. This is found by taking the diameter of the Earth, which is roughly 7,962 miles at the equator, and applying the formula, V = 4/3 pi r^3.

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  • Q:

    When was the Earth discovered and by whom?

    A:

    In the year 1515, Nicolaus Copernicus theorized that the Earth was a planet and discovered the idea of a heliocentric solar system, a system in which all planets revolved around the sun. He built his own observatory in 1513 to help him watch the actions of planets.

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  • Q:

    What if the Earth wasn't tilted?

    A:

    If the Earth had no axial tilt, there would be no seasons. The climate would remain the same for a given location on Earth year-round, and life as commonly known would likely not exist.

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