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The smallest distance at which a natural satellite can orbit a celestial body without being torn apart by the larger body's gravitational force. The distance depends on the densities of the two bodies and the orbit of the satellite.
[After Edouard Albert Roche (1820-1883), French mathematician.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
(Astronomy) astronomy the distance from the centre of a body, such as a planet, at which the tidal forces are stronger than the mutual gravitational attraction between two adjacent orbiting objects
[C19: named after E. A. Roche (1820–83), French mathematician]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014