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Chapter 13

Newtons Law of
Universal Gravitation
Every particle in the Universe attracts every other particle
with a force that is directly proportional to the product of
their masses and inversely proportional to the distance
between them
Fg G

m1m2
r2

G is the universal gravitational constant and equals


6.673 10-11 Nm2 / kg2

Law of Gravitation, cont

This is an example of an inverse square law


The magnitude of the force varies as the inverse square of the separation of
the particles
The law can also be expressed in vector form

F12 G

m1m2
r12
2
r12

Where F12 is the force of particle 1 on 2 and the negative sign indicates that
the direction of this force is opposite to the direction of the unit vector
directed from particle 1 to particle 2.
The negative sign also indicates that particle 2 is attracted toward particle 1.

More About Forces


F12 F21

The forces form a Newtons Third


Law action-reaction pair

Gravitation is a field force that


always exists between two
particles, regardless of the
medium between them

As a consequence of the
inverse square law, the force
of attraction decreases rapidly
as distance increases

Finding the Value of G

In 1789 Henry Cavendish


measured G
The two masses are fixed
at the ends of a light
horizontal rod
Two large masses were
placed near the small ones
The angle of rotation was
measured

Gravitational Force Due to a


Distribution of Mass

The gravitational force exerted by a finite-size,


spherically symmetric mass distribution on a
particle outside the distribution is the same as if
the entire mass of the distribution were
concentrated at the center
The force exerted by the Earth on a particle of
mass m near the surface of the Earth is
ME m
Fg G 2
RE

The Gravitational Field

A gravitational field exists at every point in space. The


gravitational field describes the effect that any object has on
the empty space around itself in terms of the force that would be
present if a second object were somewhere in that space
When a particle of mass m is placed at a point where the
gravitational field is , the particle experiences a force
The field exerts a force
g on the particle
Thus the gravitational field is the gravitational force
experienced by a test particle placed at that point divided by the
mass of the test particle
g

Fg
GM
2 r
m
r

The presence of the test particle is not necessary for the field to
exist

Gravitational Field Lines

The gravitational field can


be visualized by means of
field lines which give the
direction of the
acceleration a particle
would experience if
placed in that field.
In fact, the magnitude of

the field and a given


point is that of the
freefall acceleration at
Fg
GM
that location
g
2 r
m

ME m
mg G 2
RE
ME
g G 2
RE

g Above the Earths Surface

If an object is some distance h above the Earths


surface, r becomes RE + h
g

GME

RE h

This shows that g decreases with increasing


altitude
As r goes to infinity, the weight of the object
approaches zero

Variation of g with Height

Gravitational Potential Energy

The gravitational force is conservative


The change in gravitational potential energy of a system
associated with a given displacement of a member of the
system is defined as the negative of the work done by the
gravitational force on that member during the displacement
rf

U U f Ui F r dr
ri

As a particle moves from


A to B, its gravitational
potential energy changes
by U

Gravitational Potential Energy


for the Earth, cont

Graph of the
gravitational
potential energy U
versus r for an object
above the Earths
surface
The potential energy
goes to zero as r
approaches infinity

Gravitational Potential Energy


for the Earth

Choose the zero for the gravitational potential


energy where the force is zero

This means Ui = 0 where ri =

GME m
U (r )
r

This is valid only for r RE and not valid for r < RE

Gravitational Potential Energy,


General

For any two particles, the gravitational potential energy


function becomes

Gm1m2
U
r

The gravitational potential energy between any two particles


varies as 1/r
Remember the force varies as 1/r 2
The potential energy is negative because the force is attractive
and we chose the potential energy to be zero at infinite
separation

An external agent must do positive work to


increase the separation between two objects

The work done by the external agent produces an


increase in the gravitational potential energy as the
particles are separated

U becomes less negative

The absolute value of the potential energy can be


thought of as the binding energy
If an external agent applies a force larger than the
binding energy, the excess energy will be in the form
of kinetic energy of the particles when they are at
infinite separation

Systems with Three or More


Particles

The total gravitational


potential energy of the
system is the sum over all
pairs of particles
Gravitational potential
energy obeys the
Utotal U12 U13 U23
superposition principle

m1m2 m1m3 m2m3


G

r13
r23
r12

The absolute value of Utotal represents the work needed to


separate the particles by an infinite distance

Energy and Satellite Motion

Assume an object of mass m moving with a speed


v in the vicinity of a massive object of mass M

M >> m

Also assume M is at rest in an inertial reference


frame
The total energy is the sum of the systems kinetic
and potential energies

Total energy E = K +U

In a bound system, E is necessarily less than 0

1
Mm
2
E mv G
2
r

Energy in a Circular Orbit

An object of mass m is
moving in a circular orbit
about M
The gravitational force
supplies a centripetal
force

GMm
E
2r

Energy in a Circular Orbit, cont

The total mechanical energy is negative in the


case of a circular orbit
The kinetic energy is positive and is equal to half
the absolute value of the potential energy
The absolute value of E is equal to the binding
energy of the system

Example, Geosynchronous
Satellite

A geosynchronous
satellite is the one that we
see to remain over the
same point on the Earth
The period of the satellite
is then the same as the
period of the earth = 24 h
Equating the gravitational
force with the centripetal
force, one can find h or v

Escape Speed from Earth

An object of mass m is projected upward


from the Earths surface with an initial
speed, vi
Use energy considerations to find the
minimum value of the initial speed needed
to allow the object to move infinitely far
away from the Earth
This minimum speed is called the escape speed
v esc

2GME
RE

Note, vesc is independent of the mass of the


object
The result is independent of the direction of the
velocity and ignores air resistance

Escape Speed, General

The Earths result can


be extended to any
planet

v esc

2GM

The table at right gives


some escape speeds
from various objects

Escape Speed, Implications

Complete escape from an object is not really possible


The gravitational field is infinite and so some gravitational
force will always be felt no matter how far away you can
get
This explains why some planets have atmospheres and others
do not
Lighter molecules have higher average speeds and are more
likely to reach escape speeds

A black hole is the remains of a star that has collapsed under


its own gravitational force
The escape speed for a black hole is very large due to the
concentration of a large mass into a sphere of very small radius
If the escape speed exceeds the speed of light, radiation
cannot escape and it appears black

Two spheres of mass M are separated by a distance R. They are isolated in


space with no other masses nearby. The magnitude of the gravitational
force experienced by each mass is F. If, instead, the spheres had masses
2M and 3M and their separation was 2R, what would be the magnitude of
the gravitational force on the larger mass, as expressed in terms of F?

A.
B.
C.
D.
E.

3F
2F
F/2
2F/3
3F/2

Three 5.0 kg masses are located at points (0.40, 0) m, (0, 0) m


and (0, 0.30) m on the xy plane. What is the magnitude of the
resultant force on the mass at x = 0, y = 0.30 m as caused by the
other two masses?
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.

2.610-8 N
2.010-8 N
2.910-8 N
2.310-8 N
2.110-8 N

What is the magnitude of the free-fall acceleration at a point


that is a distance 2R above the surface of the Earth, where
R is the radius of the Earth? Answer in m/s2
A.
B.
C.

D.
E.

4.8
1.1
3.3
2.5
6.5

A planetary system consists of five planets all of different mass.


How many terms appear in the expression for the total
gravitational potential energy of this planetary system?

A.

B.

5
10
20
25

C.

D.
E.

A projectile is launched from the surface of a planet (mass = M,


radius = R). What minimum launch speed is required if the
projectile is to rise to a height of 2R above the surface of the
planet? Disregard any dissipative effects of the atmosphere.
1/ 2

A.

4GM
3R

B.

8GM
5R

C.

3GM
2R

D.

GM
R

E.

5GM
3R

1/ 2

1/ 2

1/ 2

1/ 2

A spaceship of mass m circles a planet (mass = M) in an


orbit of radius R. How much energy is required to transfer
the spaceship to a circular orbit of radius 3R?
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.

2GmM/(3R)
GmM/(3R)
GmM/(4R)
GmM/(6R)
3GmM/(4R)