Coordinate time

In the theory of relativity, it is convenient to express results in terms of a spacetime coordinate system relative to an implied observer. In many (but not all) coordinate systems, an event is specified by one time coordinate and three spatial coordinates. The time specified by the time coordinate is referred to as coordinate time to distinguish it from proper time.

In the special case of an inertial observer in special relativity, by convention the coordinate time at an event is the same as the proper time measured by a clock that is at the same location as the event, that is stationary relative to the observer and that has been synchronised to the observer's clock using the Einstein synchronisation convention.

Coordinate time, proper time, and clock synchronization

A fuller explanation of the concept of coordinate time arises from its relationships with proper time and with clock synchronization. Synchronization, along with the related concept of simultaneity, has to receive careful definition in the framework of general relativity theory, because many of the assumptions inherent in classical mechanics and classical accounts of space and time had to be removed. Specific clock synchronization procedures were defined by Einstein and give rise to a limited concept of simultaneity.[1]

Two events are called simultaneous in a chosen reference frame if and only if the chosen coordinate time has the same value for both of them;[2] and this condition allows for the physical possibility and likelihood that they will not be simultaneous from the standpoint of another reference frame.[1]

But the coordinate time is not a time that could be measured by a clock located at the place that nominally defines the reference frame, e.g. a clock located at the solar system barycenter would not measure the coordinate time of the barycentric reference frame, and a clock located at the geocenter would not measure the coordinate time of a geocentric reference frame.[3]

Mathematics

For non-inertial observers, and in general relativity, coordinate systems can be chosen more freely. For a clock whose spatial coordinates are constant, the relationship between proper time τ (Greek lowercase tau) and coordinate time t, i.e. the rate of time dilation, is given by

(1)

where g00 is a component of the metric tensor, which incorporates gravitational time dilation (under the convention that the zeroth component is timelike).

An alternative formulation, correct to the order of terms in 1/c2, gives the relation between proper and coordinate time in terms of more-easily recognizable quantities in dynamics:[4]

(2)

in which:

is a sum of gravitational potentials due to the masses in the neighborhood, based on their distances ri from the clock. This sum of the terms GMi/ri is evaluated approximately, as a sum of Newtonian gravitational potentials (plus any tidal potentials considered), and is represented using the positive astronomical sign convention for gravitational potentials.

Also c is the speed of light, and v is the speed of the clock (in the coordinates of the chosen reference frame) defined by:

(3)

where dx, dy, dz and dtc are small increments in three orthogonal spacelike coordinates x, y, z and in the coordinate time tc of the clock's position in the chosen reference frame.

Equation (2) is a fundamental and much-quoted differential equation for the relation between proper time and coordinate time, i.e. for time dilation. A derivation, starting from the Schwarzschild metric, with further reference sources, is given in Time dilation due to gravitation and motion together.

Measurement

The coordinate times cannot be measured, but only computed from the (proper-time) readings of real clocks with the aid of the time dilation relationship shown in equation (2) (or some alternative or refined form of it).

Only for explanatory purposes it is possible to conceive a hypothetical observer and trajectory on which the proper time of the clock would coincide with coordinate time: such an observer and clock have to be conceived at rest with respect to the chosen reference frame (v = 0 in (2) above) but also (in an unattainably hypothetical situation) infinitely far away from its gravitational masses (also U = 0 in (2) above).[5] Even such an illustration is of limited use because the coordinate time is defined everywhere in the reference frame, while the hypothetical observer and clock chosen to illustrate it has only a limited choice of trajectory.

Coordinate time scales

A coordinate time scale (or coordinate time standard) is a time standard designed for use as the time coordinate in calculations that need to take account of relativistic effects. The choice of a time coordinate implies the choice of an entire frame of reference.

As described above, a time coordinate can to a limited extent be illustrated by the proper time of a clock that is notionally infinitely far away from the objects of interest and at rest with respect to the chosen reference frame. This notional clock, because it is outside all gravity wells, is not influenced by gravitational time dilation. The proper time of objects within a gravity well will pass more slowly than the coordinate time even when they are at rest with respect to the coordinate reference frame. Gravitational as well as motional time dilation must be considered for each object of interest, and the effects are functions of the velocity relative to the reference frame and of the gravitational potential as indicated in (2).

There are four purpose-designed coordinate time scales defined by the IAU for use in astronomy. Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB) is based on a reference frame comoving with the barycenter of the Solar system, and has been defined for use in calculating motion of bodies within the Solar system. However, from the standpoint of Earth-based observers, general time dilation including gravitational time dilation causes Barycentric Coordinate Time, which is based on the SI second, to appear when observed from the Earth to have time units that pass more quickly than SI seconds measured by an Earth-based clock, with a rate of divergence of about 0.5 seconds per year.[6] Accordingly, for many practical astronomical purposes, a scaled modification of TCB has been defined, called for historical reasons Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB), with a time unit that evaluates to SI seconds when observed from the Earth's surface, thus assuring that at least for several millennia TDB will remain within 2 milliseconds of Terrestrial Time (TT),[7][8] albeit that the time unit of TDB, if measured by the hypothetical observer described above, at rest in the reference frame and at infinite distance, would be very slightly slower than the SI second (by 1 part in 1/LB = 1 part in 108/1.550519768).[9]

Geocentric Coordinate Time (TCG) is based on a reference frame comoving with the geocenter (the center of the Earth), and is defined in principle for use for calculations concerning phenomena on or in the region of the Earth, such as planetary rotation and satellite motions. To a much smaller extent than with TCB compared with TDB, but for a corresponding reason, the SI second of TCG when observed from the Earth's surface shows a slight acceleration on the SI seconds realized by Earth-surface-based clocks. Accordingly, Terrestrial Time (TT) has also been defined as a scaled version of TCG, with the scaling such that on the defined geoid the unit rate is equal to the SI second, albeit that in terms of TCG the SI second of TT is a very little slower (this time by 1 part in 1/LG = 1 part in 1010/6.969290134).[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b S A Klioner (1992), "The problem of clock synchronization - A relativistic approach", Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, vol.53 (1992), pp. 81-109.
  2. ^ S A Klioner (2008), "Relativistic scaling of astronomical quantities and the system of astronomical units", Astronomy and Astrophysics, vol.478 (2008), pp.951-958, at section 5: "On the concept of coordinate time scales", esp. p.955.
  3. ^ S A Klioner (2008), cited above, at page 954.
  4. ^ This is for example equation (6) at page 36 of T D Moyer (1981), "Transformation from proper time on Earth to coordinate time in solar system barycentric space-time frame of reference", Celestial Mechanics, vol.23 (1981), pages 33-56.)
  5. ^ S A Klioner (2008), cited above, at page 955.
  6. ^ A graph giving an overview of the rate differences (when observed from the Earth's surface) and offsets between various standard time scales, present and past, defined by the IAU: for description see Fig. 1 (at p.835) in P K Seidelmann & T Fukushima (1992), "Why new time scales?", Astronomy & Astrophysics vol.265 (1992), pages 833-838.
  7. ^ IAU 2006 resolution 3, see Recommendation and footnotes, note 3.
  8. ^ These differences between coordinate time scales are mainly periodic, the basis for them explained in G M Clemence & V Szebehely, "Annual variation of an atomic clock", Astronomical Journal, Vol.72 (1967), p.1324-6.
  9. ^ Scaling defined in IAU 2006 resolution 3.
  10. ^ Scaling defined in Resolutions of the IAU 2000 24th General Assembly (Manchester), see Resolution B1.9.
Barycentric Coordinate Time

Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB, from the French Temps-coordonnée barycentrique) is a coordinate time standard intended to be used as the independent variable of time for all calculations pertaining to orbits of planets, asteroids, comets, and interplanetary spacecraft in the Solar system. It is equivalent to the proper time experienced by a clock at rest in a coordinate frame co-moving with the barycenter of the Solar system: that is, a clock that performs exactly the same movements as the Solar system but is outside the system's gravity well. It is therefore not influenced by the gravitational time dilation caused by the Sun and the rest of the system.

TCB was defined in 1991 by the International Astronomical Union, in Recommendation III of the XXIst General Assembly. It was intended as one of the replacements for the problematic 1976 definition of Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB). Unlike former astronomical time scales, TCB is defined in the context of the general theory of relativity. The relationships between TCB and other relativistic time scales are defined with fully general relativistic metrics.

Because the reference frame for TCB is not influenced by the gravitational potential caused by the Solar system, TCB ticks faster than clocks on the surface of the Earth by 1.550505 × 10−8 (about 490 milliseconds per year). Consequently, the values of physical constants to be used with calculations using TCB differ from the traditional values of physical constants (The traditional values were in a sense wrong, incorporating corrections for the difference in time scales). Adapting the large body of existing software to change from TDB to TCB is an ongoing task, and as of 2002 many calculations continue to use TDB in some form.

Time coordinates on the TCB scale are conventionally specified using traditional means of specifying days, carried over from non-uniform time standards based on the rotation of the Earth. Specifically, both Julian Dates and the Gregorian calendar are used. For continuity with its predecessor Ephemeris Time, TCB was set to match ET at around Julian Date 2443144.5 (1977-01-01T00Z). More precisely, it was defined that TCB instant 1977-01-01T00:00:32.184 exactly corresponds to the International Atomic Time (TAI) instant 1977-01-01T00:00:00.000 exactly, at the geocenter. This is also the instant at which TAI introduced corrections for gravitational time dilation.

Barycentric Dynamical Time

Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB, from the French Temps Dynamique Barycentrique) is a relativistic coordinate time scale, intended for astronomical use as a time standard to take account of time dilation when calculating orbits and astronomical ephemerides of planets, asteroids, comets and interplanetary spacecraft in the Solar System. TDB is now (since 2006) defined as a linear scaling of Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB). A feature that distinguishes TDB from TCB is that TDB, when observed from the Earth's surface, has a difference from Terrestrial Time (TT) that is about as small as can be practically arranged with consistent definition: the differences are mainly periodic, and overall will remain at less than 2 milliseconds for several millennia.TDB applies to the Solar-System-barycentric reference frame, and was first defined in 1976 as a successor to the (non-relativistic) former standard of ephemeris time (adopted by the IAU in 1952 and superseded 1976). In 2006, after a history of multiple time-scale definitions and deprecation since the 1970s, a redefinition of TDB was approved by the IAU. The 2006 IAU redefinition of TDB as an international standard expressly acknowledged that the long-established JPL ephemeris time argument Teph, as implemented in JPL Development Ephemeris DE405, "is for practical purposes the same as TDB defined in this Resolution" (By 2006, ephemeris DE405 had already been in use for a few years as the official basis for planetary and lunar ephemerides in the Astronomical Almanac; it was the basis for editions for 2003 through 2014; in the edition for 2015 it is superseded by DE430).

Chronometry

Chronometry (from Greek χρόνος chronos, "time" and μέτρον metron, "measure") is the science of the measurement of time, or timekeeping. Chronometry applies to electronic devices, while horology refers to mechanical devices.

It should not to be confused with chronology, the science of locating events in time, which often relies upon it.

Dynamical time scale

In time standards, dynamical time is the time-like argument of a dynamical theory; and a dynamical time scale in this sense is the realization of a time-like argument based on a dynamical theory: that is, the time and time scale are defined implicitly, inferred from the observed position of an astronomical object via a theory of its motion. A first application of this concept of dynamical time was the definition of the ephemeris time scale (ET).In the late 19th century it was suspected, and in the early 20th century it was established, that the rotation of the Earth (i.e. the length of the day) was both irregular on short time scales, and was slowing down on longer time scales. The suggestion was made, that observation of the position of the Moon, Sun and planets and comparison of the observations with their gravitational ephemerides would be a better way to determine a uniform time scale. A detailed proposal of this kind was published in 1948 and adopted by the IAU in 1952 (see Ephemeris time - history).

Using data from Newcomb's Tables of the Sun (based on the theory of the apparent motion of the Sun by Simon Newcomb, 1895, as retrospectively used in the definition of ephemeris time), the SI second was defined in 1960 as:

the fraction 1/31,556,925.9747 of the tropical year for 1900 January 0 at 12 hours ephemeris time.Caesium atomic clocks became operational in 1955, and their use provided further confirmation that the rotation of the earth fluctuated randomly. This confirmed the unsuitability of the mean solar second of Universal Time as a precision measure of time interval. After three years of comparisons with lunar observations it was determined that the ephemeris second corresponded to 9,192,631,770 ± 20 cycles of the caesium resonance. In 1967/68 the length of the SI second was redefined to be 9,192,631,770 cycles of the caesium resonance, equal to the previous measurement result for the ephemeris second (see Ephemeris time - redefinition of the second).

In 1976, however, the IAU resolved that the theoretical basis for ephemeris time was wholly non-relativistic, and therefore, beginning in 1984 ephemeris time would be replaced by two further time scales with allowance for relativistic corrections. Their names, assigned in 1979, emphasized their dynamical nature or origin, Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB) and Terrestrial Dynamical Time (TDT). Both were defined for continuity with ET and were based on what had become the standard SI second, which in turn had been derived from the measured second of ET.

During the period 1991–2006, the TDB and TDT time scales were both redefined and replaced, owing to difficulties or inconsistencies in their original definitions. The current fundamental relativistic time scales are Geocentric Coordinate Time (TCG) and Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB); both of these have rates that are based on the SI second in respective reference frames (and hypothetically outside the relevant gravity well), but on account of relativistic effects, their rates would appear slightly faster when observed at the Earth's surface, and therefore diverge from local earth-based time scales based on the SI second at the Earth's surface. Therefore, the currently defined IAU time scales also include Terrestrial Time (TT) (replacing TDT, and now defined as a re-scaling of TCG, chosen to give TT a rate that matches the SI second when observed at the Earth's surface), and a redefined Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB), a re-scaling of TCB to give TDB a rate that matches the SI second at the Earth's surface.

Ephemeris time

The term ephemeris time (often abbreviated ET) can in principle refer to time in connection with any astronomical ephemeris. In practice it has been used more specifically to refer to:

a former standard astronomical time scale adopted in 1952 by the IAU, and superseded in the 1970s. This time scale was proposed in 1948, to overcome the drawbacks of irregularly fluctuating mean solar time. The intent was to define a uniform time (as far as was then feasible) based on Newtonian theory (see below: Definition of ephemeris time (1952)). Ephemeris time was a first application of the concept of a dynamical time scale, in which the time and time scale are defined implicitly, inferred from the observed position of an astronomical object via the dynamical theory of its motion.

a modern relativistic coordinate time scale, implemented by the JPL ephemeris time argument Teph, in a series of numerically integrated Development Ephemerides. Among them is the DE405 ephemeris in widespread current use. The time scale represented by Teph is closely related to, but distinct (by an offset and constant rate) from, the TCB time scale currently adopted as a standard by the IAU (see below: JPL ephemeris time argument Teph).Most of the following sections relate to the ephemeris time of the 1952 standard.

An impression has sometimes arisen that ephemeris time was in use from 1900: this probably arose because ET, though proposed and adopted in the period 1948–1952, was defined in detail using formulae that made retrospective use of the epoch date of 1900 January 0 and of Newcomb's Tables of the Sun.The ephemeris time of the 1952 standard leaves a continuing legacy, through its ephemeris second which became closely duplicated in the length of the current standard SI second (see below: Redefinition of the second).

Geocentric Coordinate Time

Geocentric Coordinate Time (TCG - Temps-coordonnée géocentrique) is a coordinate time standard intended to be used as the independent variable of time for all calculations pertaining to precession, nutation, the Moon, and artificial satellites of the Earth. It is equivalent to the proper time experienced by a clock at rest in a coordinate frame co-moving with the center of the Earth: that is, a clock that performs exactly the same movements as the Earth but is outside the Earth's gravity well. It is therefore not influenced by the gravitational time dilation caused by the Earth.

TCG was defined in 1991 by the International Astronomical Union, in Recommendation III of the XXIst General Assembly. It was intended as one of the replacements for the ill-defined Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB). Unlike former astronomical time scales, TCG is defined in the context of the general theory of relativity. The relationships between TCG and other relativistic time scales are defined with fully general relativistic metrics.

Because the reference frame for TCG is not rotating with the surface of the Earth and not in the gravitational potential of the Earth, TCG ticks faster than clocks on the surface of the Earth by a factor of about 7.0 × 10−10 (about 22 milliseconds per year). Consequently, the values of physical constants to be used with calculations using TCG differ from the traditional values of physical constants. (The traditional values were in a sense wrong, incorporating corrections for the difference in time scales.) Adapting the large body of existing software to change from TDB to TCG is a formidable task, and as of 2002 many calculations continue to use TDB in some form.

Time coordinates on the TCG scale are conventionally specified using traditional means of specifying days, carried over from non-uniform time standards based on the rotation of the Earth. Specifically, both Julian Dates and the Gregorian calendar are used. For continuity with its predecessor Ephemeris Time, TCG was set to match ET at around Julian Date 2443144.5 (1977-01-01T00Z). More precisely, it was defined that TCG instant 1977-01-01T00:00:32.184 exactly corresponds to TAI instant 1977-01-01T00:00:00.000 exactly. This is also the instant at which TAI introduced corrections for gravitational time dilation.

TCG is a Platonic time scale: a theoretical ideal, not dependent on a particular realisation. For practical purposes, TCG must be realised by actual clocks in the Earth system. Because of the linear relationship between Terrestrial Time (TT) and TCG, the same clocks that realise TT also serve for TCG. See the article on TT for details of the relationship and how TT is realised.

Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB) is the analog of TCG, used for calculations relating to the solar system beyond Earth orbit. TCG is defined by a different reference frame from TCB, such that they are not linearly related. Over the long term, TCG ticks more slowly than TCB by about 1.6 × 10−8 (about 0.5 seconds per year). In addition there are periodic variations, as Earth moves within the Solar system. When the Earth is at perihelion in January, TCG ticks even more slowly than it does on average, due to gravitational time dilation from being deeper in the Sun's gravity well and also velocity time dilation from moving faster relative to the Sun. At aphelion in July the opposite holds, with TCG ticking faster than it does on average.

Geodesics in general relativity

In general relativity, a geodesic generalizes the notion of a "straight line" to curved spacetime. Importantly, the world line of a particle free from all external, non-gravitational force is a particular type of geodesic. In other words, a freely moving or falling particle always moves along a geodesic.

In general relativity, gravity can be regarded as not a force but a consequence of a curved spacetime geometry where the source of curvature is the stress–energy tensor (representing matter, for instance). Thus, for example, the path of a planet orbiting a star is the projection of a geodesic of the curved 4-D spacetime geometry around the star onto 3-D space.

Gravitational time dilation

Gravitational time dilation is a form of time dilation, an actual difference of elapsed time between two events as measured by observers situated at varying distances from a gravitating mass. The higher the gravitational potential (the farther the clock is from the source of gravitation), the faster time passes. Albert Einstein originally predicted this effect in his theory of relativity and it has since been confirmed by tests of general relativity.This has been demonstrated by noting that atomic clocks at differing altitudes (and thus different gravitational potential) will eventually show different times. The effects detected in such Earth-bound experiments are extremely small, with differences being measured in nanoseconds. Relative to Earth's age in billions of years, Earth's core is effectively 2.5 years younger than its surface. Demonstrating larger effects would require greater distances from the Earth or a larger gravitational source.

Gravitational time dilation was first described by Albert Einstein in 1907 as a consequence of special relativity in accelerated frames of reference. In general relativity, it is considered to be a difference in the passage of proper time at different positions as described by a metric tensor of space-time. The existence of gravitational time dilation was first confirmed directly by the Pound–Rebka experiment in 1959.

HD2IOA

HD2IOA is the callsign of a time signal radio station operated by the Navy of Ecuador. The station is located at Guayaquil, Ecuador and transmits in the HF band on 3.81 and 7.6 MHz.The transmission is in AM mode with only the lower sideband (part of the time H3E and the rest H2B/H2D) and consists of 780 Hz tone pulses repeated every ten seconds and voice announcements in Spanish.

While sometimes this station is described as defunct, reception reports of this station on 3.81 MHz appear regularly at the Utility DX Forum.

Hourglass

An hourglass (or sandglass, sand timer, sand clock or egg timer) is a device used to measure the passage of time. It comprises two glass bulbs connected vertically by a narrow neck that allows a regulated trickle of material (historically sand) from the upper bulb to the lower one. Factors affecting the time it measured include sand quantity, sand coarseness, bulb size, and neck width. Hourglasses may be reused indefinitely by inverting the bulbs once the upper bulb is empty. Depictions of hourglasses in art survive in large numbers from antiquity to the present day, as a symbol for the passage of time. These were especially common sculpted as epitaphs on tombstones or other monuments, also in the form of the winged hourglass, a literal depiction of the well-known Latin epitaph tempus fugit ("time flies").

Intercalation (timekeeping)

Intercalation or embolism in timekeeping is the insertion of a leap day, week, or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. Lunisolar calendars may require intercalations of both days and months.

International Atomic Time

International Atomic Time (TAI, from the French name temps atomique international) is a high-precision atomic coordinate time standard based on the notional passage of proper time on Earth's geoid. It is the principal realisation of Terrestrial Time (with a fixed offset of epoch). It is also the basis for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is used for civil timekeeping all over the Earth's surface. As of 31 December 2016, when another leap second was added, TAI is exactly 37 seconds ahead of UTC. The 37 seconds results from the initial difference of 10 seconds at the start of 1972, plus 27 leap seconds in UTC since 1972.

TAI may be reported using traditional means of specifying days, carried over from non-uniform time standards based on the rotation of the Earth. Specifically, both Julian Dates and the Gregorian calendar are used. TAI in this form was synchronised with Universal Time at the beginning of 1958, and the two have drifted apart ever since, due to the changing motion of the Earth.

Minute

The minute is a unit of time or angle. As a unit of time, the minute is most of times equal to ​1⁄60 (the first sexagesimal fraction) of an hour, or 60 seconds. In the UTC time standard, a minute on rare occasions has 61 seconds, a consequence of leap seconds (there is a provision to insert a negative leap second, which would result in a 59-second minute, but this has never happened in more than 40 years under this system). As a unit of angle, the minute of arc is equal to ​1⁄60 of a degree, or 60 seconds (of arc). Although not an SI unit for either time or angle, the minute is accepted for use with SI units for both. The SI symbols for minute or minutes are min for time measurement, and the prime symbol after a number, e.g. 5′, for angle measurement. The prime is also sometimes used informally to denote minutes of time.

Proper time

In relativity, proper time along a timelike world line is defined as the time as measured by a clock following that line. It is thus independent of coordinates, and a Lorentz scalar. The proper time interval between two events on a world line is the change in proper time. This interval is the quantity of interest, since proper time itself is fixed only up to an arbitrary additive constant, namely the setting of the clock at some event along the world line. The proper time interval between two events depends not only on the events but also the world line connecting them, and hence on the motion of the clock between the events. It is expressed as an integral over the world line. An accelerated clock will measure a smaller elapsed time between two events than that measured by a non-accelerated (inertial) clock between the same two events. The twin paradox is an example of this effect.

In terms of four-dimensional spacetime, proper time is analogous to arc length in three-dimensional (Euclidean) space. By convention, proper time is usually represented by the Greek letter τ (tau) to distinguish it from coordinate time represented by t.

By contrast, coordinate time is the time between two events as measured by an observer using that observer's own method of assigning a time to an event. In the special case of an inertial observer in special relativity, the time is measured using the observer's clock and the observer's definition of simultaneity.

The concept of proper time was introduced by Hermann Minkowski in 1908, and is a feature of Minkowski diagrams.

Tempo (astronomy)

Tempo is a computer program to analyze radio observations of pulsars. Once enough observations are available, Tempo can deduce the pulsar rotation rate and phase, astrometric position and rates of change, and parameters of binary systems, by fitting models to pulse times of arrival measured at one or more terrestrial observatories. This is a non-trivial procedure because much larger effects must be removed before the detailed fit can be performed. These include:

Dispersion of the pulses in the Interstellar medium, the solar system, and the ionosphere

Observatory motion (including Earth rotation, precession, nutation, polar motion and orbital motion)

Tropospheric propagation delay

Gravitational time dilation due to binary companions and Solar system bodies.Tempo is maintained and distributed on SourceForge. There is a reference manual available, but no general documentation.

Tempo is a relatively old program, and is being replaced by Tempo2. The main advantages of Tempo2, from the abstract, are:

We have developed tempo2, a new pulsar timing package that contains propagation and other relevant effects implemented at the 1ns level of precision (a factor of ~100 more precise than previously obtainable). In contrast with earlier timing packages, tempo2 is compliant with the general relativistic framework of the IAU 1991 and 2000 resolutions and hence uses the International Celestial Reference System, Barycentric Coordinate Time and up-to-date precession, nutation and polar motion models.

Term (time)

A term is a period of duration, time or occurrence, in relation to an event. To differentiate an interval or duration, common phrases are used to distinguish the observance of length are near-term or short-term, medium-term or mid-term and long-term.

It is also used as part of a calendar year, especially one of the three parts of an academic term and working year in the United Kingdom: Michaelmas term, Hilary term / Lent term or Trinity term / Easter term, the equivalent to the American semester. In America there is a midterm election held in the middle of the four-year presidential term, there are also academic midterm exams.

In economics, it is the period required for economic agents to reallocate resources, and generally reestablish equilibrium. The actual length of this period, usually numbered in years or decades, varies widely depending on circumstantial context. During the long term, all factors are variable.

In finance or financial operations of borrowing and investing, what is considered long-term is usually above 3 years, with medium-term usually between 1 and 3 years and short-term usually under 1 year. It is also used in some countries to indicate a fixed term investment such as a term deposit.

In law, the term of a contract is the duration for which it is to remain in effect (not to be confused with the meaning of "term" that denotes any provision of a contract). A fixed-term contract is one concluded for a pre-defined time, although it may also include provision for it to be extended. A contractor required to deliver against a term contract is often referred to as a "term contractor".

Terrestrial Time

Terrestrial Time (TT) is a modern astronomical time standard defined by the International Astronomical Union, primarily for time-measurements of astronomical observations made from the surface of Earth.

For example, the Astronomical Almanac uses TT for its tables of positions (ephemerides) of the Sun, Moon and planets as seen from Earth. In this role, TT continues Terrestrial Dynamical Time (TDT or TD), which in turn succeeded ephemeris time (ET). TT shares the original purpose for which ET was designed, to be free of the irregularities in the rotation of Earth.

The unit of TT is the SI second, the definition of which is currently based on the caesium atomic clock, but TT is not itself defined by atomic clocks. It is a theoretical ideal, and real clocks can only approximate it.

TT is distinct from the time scale often used as a basis for civil purposes, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). TT indirectly underlies UTC, via International Atomic Time (TAI). Because of the historical difference between TAI and ET when TT was introduced, TT is approximately 32.184 s ahead of TAI.

Time dilation

According to the theory of relativity, time dilation is a difference in the elapsed time measured by two observers, either due to a velocity difference relative to each other, or by being differently situated relative to a gravitational field. As a result of the nature of spacetime, a clock that is moving relative to an observer will be measured to tick slower than a clock that is at rest in the observer's own frame of reference. A clock that is under the influence of a stronger gravitational field than an observer's will also be measured to tick slower than the observer's own clock.

Such time dilation has been repeatedly demonstrated, for instance by small disparities in a pair of atomic clocks after one of them is sent on a space trip, or by clocks on the Space Shuttle running slightly slower than reference clocks on Earth, or clocks on GPS and Galileo satellites running slightly faster. Time dilation has also been the subject of science fiction works, as it technically provides the means for forward time travel.

Time standard

A time standard is a specification for measuring time: either the rate at which time passes; or points in time; or both. In modern times, several time specifications have been officially recognized as standards, where formerly they were matters of custom and practice. An example of a kind of time standard can be a time scale, specifying a method for measuring divisions of time. A standard for civil time can specify both time intervals and time-of-day.

Standardized time measurements are made using a clock to count periods of some period changes, which may be either the changes of a natural phenomenon or of an artificial machine.

Historically, time standards were often based on the Earth's rotational period. From the late 18 century to the 19th century it was assumed that the Earth's daily rotational rate was constant. Astronomical observations of several kinds, including eclipse records, studied in the 19th century, raised suspicions that the rate at which Earth rotates is gradually slowing and also shows small-scale irregularities, and this was confirmed in the early twentieth century. Time standards based on Earth rotation were replaced (or initially supplemented) for astronomical use from 1952 onwards by an ephemeris time standard based on the Earth's orbital period and in practice on the motion of the Moon. The invention in 1955 of the caesium atomic clock has led to the replacement of older and purely astronomical time standards, for most practical purposes, by newer time standards based wholly or partly on atomic time.

Various types of second and day are used as the basic time interval for most time scales. Other intervals of time (minutes, hours, and years) are usually defined in terms of these two.

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