an SI Tour℠

Most recent addition to this page = 4 November 2014

Motion around an axis. On this page, the rotation rate gets slower as you go down the page.

Rotation rate in
rotations per

Rotation rate in
rotations per
100 Synthetic vaterite sphere (4.40 µm in diameter) levitated and rotated by laser light in a vacuum. Highest measured rotation rate as of 2013.

Yoshihiko Arita, Michael Mazilu and Kishan Dholakia.
Laser-induced rotation and cooling of a trapped microgyroscope in vacuum.
Nature Communications, 4, article 2374 28 August 2013.
doi: 10.1038/ncomms3374.

Rotation rate in
rotations per
1 Micron-sized flakes of graphene were levitated by electric fields in a near-vacuum. Circularly polarized light caused the flake to spin. As of 2010, this was the fastest rotation of a macroscopic object ever observed.

B. E. Kane.
Levitated spinning graphene flakes in an electric quadropole ion trap.
Physical Review B, vol. 82, no. 11, page 115441 (22 September 2010).

Rotation rate in
rotations per
8.3 Bit of experimental micro-milling machine, early 21st century.
5 Typical air-driven dentist's drill, late 20th century.
>1.6 Wheels of the Bloodhound SSC, a supersonic car, at full speed.
1.122 XTE J1739-285, a neutron star. 

European Space Agency. “Integral points to the fastest spinning neutron star” (press release). 16 February 2007. 

The validity of the original observation was later questioned.

“There was a recent report of evidence for a 1122 Hz burst oscillation in XTE J1739−285 [26], but independent analysis by several other groups (including ours) indicates that the statistical significance of the reported signal is marginal.”

Deepto Chakrabarty.
The spin distribution of millisecond X-ray pulsars.
arXiv:0809.4031v1 [astro-ph] 23 Sept 2008

1 rotation per second = 60 rotations per minute

Rotation rate in
rotations per
833 Prototype flywheel energy storage device built at the Univ. of Texas at Austin.

Science News, vol. 171, page 313 (19 May 2007).

716 Pulsar J1748-2446ad, a neutron star about twice the mass of the sun but only 32 kilometers in diameter.

J. W. T. Hessels, S. M.Ransom, I. H. Stairs, P. C. Freire, V. M. Kaspi and F. Camilo.
A radio pulsar spinning at 716 Hz.
Science, vol 311, no. 5769, pages 1901–1904 ().

458 Bit in Porter-Cable portable routers, maximum speed, 2007.
435 XTE J1751-305, a type of star called an accreting millisecond pulsar, which consists of a neutron star acquiring gas from a less massive companion star.

IAU Circular 7870, 8 April 2002.

416 Hand grinder with DC motor, such as Dremel.
267 Shaft of stationary steam turbine, typical top speed.
250 Platters of the fastest commercially-available hard disk drives, 2002.
133 Crankshaft of internal combustion gasoline engine of a Lamborghini Murcièlago LP640 at maximum power (640 horsepower, 471 kW).
132.5 Maximum turbine rotation rate of the General Electric J47 turbojet engine, produced 1948 to 1956, in use until 1978.
78 Rotation of minor planet 2000 DO8.
74 Blade of typical 7¼-inch portable circular saw. Some as high as 97 r/s, however.
60 Shaft of synchronous electric motor running on 60-Hz electric current.
50 Electric dental drill, early 20th century.
50 Crankshaft of 1949 Volkswagen Beetle engine at maximum power (25 hp, 18.5 kW).
42.67± 0.04 Rotation of minor planet 2008 HJ. Shortest known rotation rate of any natural body in the solar system.

Electronic Telegram No. 1382 of the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, May 22, 2008.

17 Flagella of certain bacteria, top speed (low speed, around 3.5 r/s). This is the only truly rotary action in living things. The rotor mechanism itself is capable of as much as 280 r/s, but not with the flagella attached.   
5 Good ice skater doing a scratch spin.
1.3 Shellac audio recording, 20th century. (78 RPM)

1 kilosecond = 16 minutes 40 seconds.

rate in
rotations per 
555.6 Vinyl long-playing audio recording (33 1/3 rpm).
255 Blades of the 3.6 MW General Electric wind turbine, top speed. Blades are 140 meters long. 
76 Dense white dwarf star RX J0648.0-4418


23.44 Rotation of the asteroid 2008 HJ, fastest spinning natural body in the solar system (as of 2008).

Electronic Telegram No. 1382 of the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, May 22, 2008. One rotation every 42.67 ± 0.04 s.

12.8 Rotation of the asteroid 2000 DO8, record holder previous to discovery of 2008 HJ.

1 megasecond = about 11.57 days

rate in
rotations per
126 Approximate maximum rotation rate, by calculation, for a small (≤10 km across) asteroid that is a “rubble pile.” At higher rates it should fly apart. But the asteroid (29075) 1950 DA rotates 132 times per megasecond. Rozitis et al propose that it isn't only gravity and friction, but also the van der Waals force that is helping to hold the asteroid together.

Ben Rozitis, Eric MacLennan and Joshua P. Emery.
Cohesive forces prevent the rotational breakup of rubble-pile asteroid (29075) 1950 DA.
Nature, vol. 512, issue 7513, pages 174–176 (14 August 2014)

95 Average rotation rate of the Pacific Subarctic Gyre (counterclockwise), a surface current in the Northern Pacific Ocean.

Curtis C. Ebbesmeyer, W. James Ingraham, Thomas C. Royer and Chester E. Grosch.
Tub toys orbit the Pacific Subarctic Gyre.
Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, vol. 88, no. 1, pages 1-4 (2 Jan 2007)

~34 Rotation of the planet β Pictoris b (a day is about 8.1 ± 1.0 hours long)

Ignas A. G. Snellen, Bernhard R. Brandl, Remco J. de Kok, Matteo Brogi, Jayne Birkby and Henriette Schwarz.
Fast spin of the young extrasolar planet β Pictoris b.
Nature (letter), vol 509, pages 63-65 (1 May 2014)

28.23 The planet Jupiter.
26.92 The planet Saturn.
17.40 The planet Neptune.

Erich Karkoschka.
Neptune's rotational period suggested by the extraordinary stability of two features.
Icarus, doi:10:1016/j.icarus.2011.05.013

16.07 The planet Uranus.
11.24 The planet Mars.

1 gigasecond = about 31.69 years

Rotation rate in
rotations per
423.65 Moon of Earth.
197.34 The planet Mercury.
47.63 The planet Venus.

1 terasecond = about 31,688 years

Rotation rate in
rotations per 

1 petasecond = about 32 million years

Rotation rate in
rotations per 

1 exasecond = about 32,000,000,000 years

Rotation rate in
rotations per
158 Milky Way galaxy, at the distance Earth is from the center. The galaxy does not rotate as a solid wheel would.

1 zettasecond = about 32,000,000,000,000 years

Rotation rate in
rotations per 

1 yottasecond = about 32,000,000,000,000,000 years

Rotation rate in
rotations per

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