reference frame

In physics, a frame of reference (or reference frame) may refer to a coordinate system used to represent and measure properties of objects, such as their position and orientation, at different moments of time. It may also refer to a set of axes used for such representation. In a weaker sense, a reference frame does not specify coordinates, but only defines the same 3-dimensional space for all moments of time such that the frame can distinguish objects at rest from those that are moving. In Einsteinian relativity, reference frames are used to specify the relationship between a moving observer and the phenomenon or phenomena under observation. In this context, the phrase often becomes “observational frame of reference” (or “observational reference frame”), which implies that the observer is at rest in the frame, although not necessarily located at its origin. A relativistic reference frame includes (or implies) the coordinate time, which does not correspond across different frames moving relatively to each other. The situation thus differs from Galilean relativity, where all possible coordinate times are essentially equivalent.

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