# 6 - DYNAMICS OF A SYSTEM OF PARTICLES 6.

1 Centre of mass

Page 1

The centre of mass of a system of n particles having masses m1, m2, … , mn and position → → → vectors r1 , r2 , … , rn respectively is defined as
rcm

=

→ → → m1 r1 + m 2 r2 + ... + mn rn m1 + m 2 + ... + mn

=

→ → → m1 r1 + m 2 r2 + ... + mn rn , M

where

M = m1 + m2 + … + mn = the total mass of the system. → → → M rcm = m1 r1 + m 2 r2 + ... + mn rn

Assuming that the mass remains constant, the time derivative of the above equation gives

dr M cm dt

M v cm = m1 v 1

dr = m1 1 dt

dr + m2 2 dt

dr + … + mn n dt

+ m2 v 2 + … + mn v n

= p1 + p 2 + … + pn

=

P

Here P , which is the vector sum of the linear momenta of the particles of the system, is called the total linear momentum of the system and is the product of the total mass and velocity of the centre of mass of the system. Differentiating the above equation w.r.t. time, we get
d v cm M dt

=

d p1 dp2 + dt dt

+…+

d pn dt

=
F

dP dt

= F1

+ F2

→ = m1 a 1 → → Here, F1 F2 , …, → a1 , accelerations

d v cm M dt

=

→ → → + m2 a 2 + … + mn a n = M a cm → Fn are the forces acting on the particles of the system producing the → → → a 2 , … , a n respectively and F is the resultant force. → → → dP = F = M a cm
dt act on the

+ … + Fn

=

Two kinds of forces particle of a system:

( i ) Internal forces between particles of the system and ( ii ) external forces.
F2 are The external forces F1 acting on particles 1 and 2 of a system of particles as shown in the
→ →

figure ( a ). F12 and F21 are the

Although the initial kinetic energy of the bomb was zero. e.2 Law of conservation of linear momentum If the resultant external force on the system of particles is zero. All rigid bodies are solid bodies. According to Newton’s third law of motion. ∴ → P = p1 + p 2 + … + pn → → → = constant. = 0 ⇒ velocity of the centre of mass remains constant. as a cm continues to move with uniform velocity. Thus the system moves under the effect of the resultant external force F only as if the whole mass of the system were concentrated at its centre of mass. This law of conservation of linear momentum is universal. its fragments possess some kinetic energy. It s equally true for the systems made up of planets and the systems made up of protons. In the absence of the resultant external force. a cm → dP dt → = → F = 0. etc. All these forces can be considered to be acting on the centre of mass ( C.6 . although the individual fragments possess momentum in different directions. However. the centre of mass of the system momentum remains constant. is called a rigid body. In fact. → → → 6. but their vector sum. ) as shown in figure ( b ). the internal forces being equal and opposite cancel each other. 6. of different particles of the system can change. no real body is rigid. the total linear = 0. M a cm → = Also. Thus. etc.3 Centre of mass of a rigid ( solid ) body • A system of particles in which the relative positions of particles remain invariant.DYNAMICS OF A SYSTEM OF PARTICLES Page 2 mutual forces of interaction between the particles 1 and 2. p 1 . • . irrespective of how large a force is applied to it. but all solid bodies may not be rigid bodies. the individual momenta. i. Also. the vector sum of their momenta would be zero as the initial momentum of the bomb was zero. This mechanical energy is produced by conversion of chemical energy of the bomb. p 2 . → → This resultant external force F is equal to the rate of change of total linear momentum of the system. The location of the centre of mass of a rigid body depends on ( i ) the distribution of mass in the body and ( ii ) the shape of the body. Suppose a chemical bomb lying at rest explodes without any external force and its fragments are thrown in the air. This is known as inter-dependence of Newton’s laws of motion.” This statement is known as the law of conservation of linear momentum.M.. “The total linear momentum of a system of particles remains constant in the absence of the resultant external force. the law of conservation of momentum still holds good as no resultant external force acted on the bomb when it exploded. Rigid body is an ideal concept. This is Newton’s second law of motion for a system of particles which was derived with the help of Newton’s third law of motion. electrons.

M ycm = ∫ y dm M and zcm = ∫ z dm M If ρ ( x. while for a ring it lies at its geometric centre which is outside its matter. y. For example. if the body is not symmetric.. … . the centre of mass of a disc of uniform mass distribution is at its geometric centre. z ) is the density of the material of the body at point ( x. y. The centre of mass of symmetric bodies with uniform mass distribution can be easily obtained mathematically. z ) dV . → → → dm1. ρ ( x. . rn respectively. y. z ) dV If the density is uniform through. y. dmn having position vectors. y. dm2. rcm = → → → → dm1 r1 + dm 2 r2 + . y. z ) dV ∫ ρ ( x. + dmn rn dm1 + dm 2 + . z ) where a small mass dm having volume dV is located. y. ∫ ρ ( x. y. z ) = ρ = constant and = V = volume of the body which gives zcm = 1 V 1 V 1 V xcm = ∫ x dV . By definition. ∫ ρ ( x. + dmn = ∫ → r dm dm ∫ = ∫ → r dm M . y.. ( M = total mass of the body ) In terms of components. r2 . z ) dV ycm = ∫ y ρ ( x. rcm → = ∫ r ρ ( x.. r1 . y. then dm = ρ ( x.DYNAMICS OF A SYSTEM OF PARTICLES • Page 3 The centre of mass of a rigid body can be anywhere inside or outside the body. z ) dV ∫ dV and zcm = ∫ z ρ ( x. y. z ) dV → the components of which are xcm = ∫ x ρ ( x.6 . ycm = ∫ y dV and ∫ z dV where. whereas such mathematical derivation is difficult. … . dV = dx dy dz All these integrals are taken over the entire body. z ) dV and the position vector of centre of mass. within its matter. z ) dV .. xcm = ∫ x dm . • A solid object can be considered as made up of a large number of small mass elements. y. z ) dV ∫ ρ ( x.