# What is the Difference Between Electrostatic Force and Gravitational Force

The key difference between electrostatic force and gravitational force is that electrostatic force is the attractive or repulsive force between two electrically charged objects, whereas gravitational force is the attraction between two objects that occur due to the effect of gravity.

Electrostatic force can be described as the Coulomb force or Coulomb interaction, and it is the attractive or repulsive force between two electrically charged objects. Gravitational force can be described as the force that acts on an object due to gravity.

### CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Electrostatic Force
3. What is Gravitational Force
4. Electrostatic Force vs Gravitational Force in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Electrostatic Force vs Gravitational Force

## What is Electrostatic Force?

Electrostatic force is the attractive or repulsive force between two electrically charged objects. It can be described as the Coulomb force or Coulomb interaction. Electrostatics is a branch of electromagnetism that studies electric charges at rest. According to classical physics, some materials such as amber can attract lightweight particles after rubbing their surface. The Greek name of amber, “electron,” has led to the name “electricity.” The phenomena of electrostatics arise from the forces that electric charges exert on each other. These forces can be described using Coulomb’s law. Generally, electrostatically induced forces are weak, but some electrostatic forces, such as the force between an electron and a proton, are about 36 orders of magnitude stronger than the gravitational force acting between these subatomic particles.

Figure 01: Electrostatic Force Between Hair and a Balloon

We can observe many examples of electrostatic phenomena, including the simple attraction forces between a plastic wrap and one’s hand or photocopier and laser printing operation. The term electrostatics includes the building up of charges on the surface of objects due to the contact between surfaces. Generally, the charge exchange happens whenever any two surfaces come into contact and separate, but the effects of charge exchanges usually are noticed when at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to electrical flow. This happens because the charges that transfer between surfaces are trapped there for a long time, which is enough for effect to be observed. Thereafter, these electrical charges tend to remain on the object’s surface until the charges either bleed off to the ground or are quickly neutralized by a discharge.

## What is Gravitational Force?

Gravitational force can be described as the force that acts on an object due to gravity. Gravity or gravitation is a natural process observed in all things with a mass or energy, for example, planets, stars, galaxies, and light. Gravitational force is the weakest force among the four fundamental interactions of physics (the other three forces are strong interaction, electromagnetic force, and weak interaction). Therefore, gravitational force does not have considerable influence at the level of subatomic particles. However, it is the dominant interaction force at the macroscopic level, which causes the formation, shape, and trajectory of astronomical bodies.

Figure 02: Gravitational Force

We can define gravitational force as a force that attracts any two objects having a particular mass. We call it an attractive force because it always causes the two masses to pull together and never pushes them apart. Newton’s universal law of gravitation expresses that every object with a mass is pulling on every other object in the entire universe. However, this attraction force largely depends on the mass of the object; e.g., large masses show massive attractions.

## What is the Difference Between Electrostatic Force and Gravitational Force?

The key difference between electrostatic force and gravitational force is that electrostatic force is the attractive or repulsive force between two electrically charged objects, whereas gravitational force is the attraction between two objects that occur due to the effect of gravity.

The below infographic presents the differences between electrostatic force and gravitational force in tabular form for side by side comparison.

## Summary – Electrostatic Force vs Gravitational Force

Electrostatic force can be described as the Coulomb force or Coulomb interaction, and it is the attractive or repulsive force between two electrically charged objects. Gravitational force can be described as the force that acts on an object due to gravity. The key difference between electrostatic force and gravitational force is that electrostatic force is the attractive or repulsive force between two electrically charged objects whereas gravitational force is the attraction between two objects that occur due to the effect of gravity.