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Physics 1110

Fall 2004

Lecture 33 Announcements

10 November 2004

Reading Assignment for Fri, Nov. 12: Knight 13.1

Newtons Law of Gravitation


Newtons theoretical solution to explain Keplers laws was to propose that there exists a force between all objects, not just planets, and the mathematical form of this force was

Fg =

where this is the force between two masses 1 and 2 and r is the distance between the objects. This law is called universal because it applies to all objects, not just planets or not just on the surface of the earth. The constant G is determined from experiment and it is very small: G = 6.67 x 10-11 N-m2/kg2 . Also we have to be careful when we talk about the distance between objects. For point masses, the answer is easy; its just the position of the point mass. In the case of real extended objects we have to use a calculation of a point in the object called the center of gravity. Well learn how to calculate this in the next chapter. For uniform density objects with a regular shape (e.g., sphere or cube), the center of gravity is at the geometric center. This is not obvious, and Newton spent 20 years inventing calculus so he could prove that you should use the center of the planets, which are roughly spherical. For now, well stick to simple objects, so you should use the distance between the centers of two objects when you calculate the distance r in the gravity force formula. In order to make this more clear, lets do a few example calculations. 1. Force of gravity between two 1 kg masses, 1 meter apart.

Gm1m2 r2

Gm1m2 (6.67 x10 11 Nm 2 / kg 2 )(1kg )(1kg ) Fg = = (1m )2 r2 = 6.67 x10 11 N .

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This is a very tiny force! This is why we are not generally aware of these forces in everyday life. 2. Force of gravity between Earth and a 1 kg mass at the Earths surface. Note that here we actually use the distance between the surface (object position) and the center of the earth (earth position) to calculate the distance in the gravity formula. This is the Earths radius of course, as shown below.

Now we calculate the force on the 1 kg object:

GM e m (6.67 x10 11 Nm 2 / kg 2 )(6 x10 24 kg )(1kg ) Fg = = 2 (6.4 x10 6 m )2 Re = 9.8 N .


This is just what we would get using our old mg formula and now we can see where it comes from. Furthermore, we can now calculate g for any planet by using the equality

mg p = gp =

GM p m
2 Rp

GM p R
2 p

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3. Finally lets consider the gravitational force of the earth on the moon:

GM e mm (6.67 x10 11 Nm 2 / kg 2 )(6 x10 24 kg )(7.4 x10 22 kg ) Fg = = 2 (3.8 x10 8 m )2 rem = 2 x10 20 N .
This is an enormous force, but then we do need a force capable of keeping the moon in orbit around the earth! In fact, now well turn to just this question.

Orbits
To continue with understanding Keplers laws, we need to understand just what an orbit is. When we studied free fall trajectories using mg as the force pointed down towards the ground, we found trajectories that were parabolas. However, if we throw an object with enough horizontal velocity so that it would hit the ground 10 or 15 miles away, we would get the wrong answer! The surface of the earth is really spherical, and in that distance the curvature would have two effects: 1) the ground would have curved away lower and 2) the force would have rotated so that it kept pointing straight towards the center of the earth. Nonetheless, the object would eventually hit the ground, just a bit further away, after a longer time. If we continue this process and through the object faster and faster horizontally, we can get the object to move farther and farther around the earth before it hits. Eventually we would reach a speed where the object never hit the earth again. It would continually fall towards the earths surface, but the earths surface would keep curving away, and so the object never is able to reach the surface. In this last case, we say that the object is orbiting the earth. Lets now study this quantitatively by considering circular orbits first. Well take a specific case of a 100 kg satellite orbiting the earth at an altitude of 1 km. (By the way, we are ignoring all air resistance and mountains, etc, here just to keep things simple.) First lets calculate the force of gravity on the satellite:

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GM e ms (6.67 x10 11 Nm 2 / kg 2 )(6 x10 24 kg )(100 kg ) Fg = = 2 (6.4 x10 6 + 1000 m )2 res = 980 N .
Note that this is almost identical to just using msg because this altitude is only a small fraction of the Earths radius. The figure below illustrates this.

Now we have analyzed circular motion before, and we know that the net force towards the center must be equal to mv2/r . There is only one force here, gravity, and it points towards the center. Going back and using the equations we can solve for v in terms of the gravitational force. GM e ms ms v 2 = 2 res res

v2 = v=

GM e res GM e . res

This is an amazing formula. Using Newtons law of gravity I can now relate the speed of a satellite to the mass of the earth and the radius of the orbit. If I look at planets orbiting the sun, or moons orbiting a planet, I can figure out the mass of the sun (or planet) by just measuring the orbit radius and speed with a telescope! If we plug in the numbers for our satellite at 1 km altitude, we get v = 7900 m/s (17,700 mph)! For the moon, we get v = 1000 m/s. As the radius gets L33 - 4

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larger, the speeds get smaller. Note that they do not depend on the mass of the satellite. Period Another quantity that characterizes an orbit is the period, the time to make one complete orbit. This is now easy to calculate, just using the circumference divided by the speed.
3 res 2 res T= = 2 v GM e

If we plug in our satellite numbers, the period for the satellite would be only 85 minutes, while that of the moon around the earth is about 27 days (1 lunar month). If we square the formula for the period we get a new formula:
3 res T = 4 GM e 2 2

In fact , this is Keplers 3rd law! A circle is a special case of an ellipse, in which the two foci merge at the center, and the semimajor and semiminor axes are equal to the radius of the circle. Now we can even explain and predict the constant of proportionality that Kepler found. In the case of planets around the sun, it depends on the mass of the sun. Next lecture, well turn to elliptical orbits and also look at the potential energy function for this new law of gravity.

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