Gravitational Fields: Review
Recall that surrounding any object with mass, or collection of objects with mass, is agravitational field. Any mass placed in a gravitational field will experience agravitational force. We defined the field strength as thegravitational force per unitmasson any “test mass” placed in the field:
g
=
F
/
m
.
g
is a vector that points inthe direction of the net gravitational force; its units are N
/
kg.
F
is the vector forceon the test mass, and
m
is the test mass, a scalar.
g
and
F
are always parallel. Thestrength of the field is independent of the test mass. For example, near Earth’ssurface
mg
/
m
=
g =
9.8 N
/
kg
for any mass. Some fields are uniform (parallel,equally spaced fields lines). Nonuniform fields are stronger where the field lines arecloser together.
Earth
Earth’s surface
10 kg98 N
mF
uniform field nonuniform field