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Astronomers using new, improved spectrographic equipment to study galactic rotation during the

1970s initially presumed that spiral galaxies were standard orbital systems, just like the Solar
system, and that the laws of planetary motion should apply. As a result, when the rotational
velocities of disk objects were found to be generally flat at all peripheral radii, conflicting with
characteristic Keplerian rotation curves, it was concluded that either classical mechanics had been
falsified at large scales, or that some enormous, undetected form of matter must be present to
extend the distribution of galactic mass to very large radii. The procedural assessment conducted
here shows that very large scale aggregations of massive objects cannot be expected to rotate like
the highly centralized mass of the Solar system. Newton proved long ago that Keplerian relations
specifically apply only to the mass distribution inherent in the Solar system. As a result, no galactic
dark matter need be inferred from any discrepancy with Keplerian rotation curves.

Kepler's Laws are wonderful as a description of the motions of the


planets. However, they provide no explanation of why the planets
move in this way. Moreover, Kepler's Third Law only works for
planets around the Sun and does not apply to the Moon's orbit
around the Earth or the moons of Jupiter. Isaac Newton (16421727) provided a more general explanation of the motions of the
planets through the development of Newton's Laws of
Motion and Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation.

Johannes Kepler discovered a simple relationship between the average distance of


a planet from the Sun (called its semi-major axis, A, measured in Astronomical
Units) and the amount of time it takes a planet to orbit the Sun once (called its
orbital period, P, measured in years). For objects orbiting the Sun, the semi-major
axis to the third power equals the period squared:

A3 = P 2
There were two problems with this relation. First, Kepler did not know how it
worked, he just knew it did. Second, the relation does not work for objects which
are not orbiting the Sun, for example, the Moon orbiting the Earth. Isaac Newton
solved both these problems with his Theory of Gravity, and discovered that the
masses of the orbiting bodies also play a part. Newton developed a more general
form of what was called Kepler's Third Law that could apply to any two objects
orbiting a common center of mass. This is called Newton's Version of Kepler's
Third Law:

M1 + M2 = A3 / P2

Special units must be used to make this equation work. If the data are not given in
the proper units, they must be converted.
The masses must be measured in solar masses, where one solar mass is 1.99 X
1033 grams, or 1.99 X 1030 kilograms.
The semi-major axis must be measured in Astronomical Units, where 1 AU is
149,600,000 kilometers, or 93,000,000 miles.
The orbital period must be measured in years, where 1 year is 365.25 days.
This relation has many uses: determining the mass of a planet by looking at its
moon(s), studying binary star systems, even determining the mass of the Galaxy!
There is a problem, however, with the way the equation is written above. Often, we
are not able to determine to a high degree of accuracy the average distance
between, say, two binary stars. We must use a modified version of NVK3L for very
distant objects.
To achieve this modification, we must first introduce an equation for velocity, how
fast an object is traveling. Everybody who has driven a car has encountered the
formula for velocity. The speedometer on a car measures velocity in miles per
hour, or kilometers per hour. Now miles or kilometers are ways of
measuring distance, hours are what we use to measure time, and "per" is a word
signaling division. Therefore, the formula for velocity is

Velocity = Distance traveled / Time to travel


How does this relate to NVK3L? Remember that our real problem is often that we
do not know the average distance between the two objects that are orbiting each
other. Many times, we can only clearly see one of the objects that is orbiting! But
velocity is something we can measure, as long as we can see one of the partners,
using the Doppler Effect.
Technically what we are measuring is the orbital velocity of the visible partner,
which can be related to the distance traveled by the visible partner in its orbit and
the time it takes the visible partner to orbit once. That time is simply the orbital
period P, which is generally easy to observe. What we usually don't know is the
distance traveled around the orbit by the visible partner, called

thecircumference of the orbit. This circumference is related to the average


distance, A, by the formula

Circumference = C = 2 (pi) A
So the velocity equation becomes

Velocity = V = C / P = 2 (pi) A / P
Remember that we can compute velocity using the Doppler Effect. We can
observe the orbital period easily. It is the value of A that is typically very hard to
find. So we turn the equation above around, and solve for A:

A = V P / 2 (pi)
We can now take this value of A and plug it in to Newton's Version of Kepler's
Third Law to get an equation involving knowable things, like V and P:

M1 + M2 = V3P3 / 23(pi)3P2
M1 + M2 = V3P / 8(pi)3
What this equation is basically telling us is, the more mass there is in a system, the
faster the components of that system are moving as they orbit each other. We shall
not use this more complicated version of NVK3L for homework calculations, but
we will use the concept in our discussion of black holes.

Here's what Kepler wrote:


". . . equal diurnal arcs on one and the same eccentric are not traversed with
equal velocities, but that these different times in equal parts of the eccentric
are to each other as the distances from the Sun, the source of the motion; and
on the other hand, that the times being supposed equal, as, for instance, one
natural day in each case, the true diurnal arcs corresponding to them in a
single eccentric orbit are inversely proportional to the two distances from the

Sun. It has likewise been shown be me that the orbit of a planet is elliptical,
and the Sun, the source of motion, is in one of the foci of this ellipse."

Jon-Richfield says:
Reply I am not sure what baffles you about that, because there is only one place where the other focus can be (except

where the elliptical orbit of the planet happens to be a circle --namely where the two foci are in the same place).
That other place for the other (eccentric) focus is ... not at the centre of the body round which the planet is
orbiting. The eccentric focus might be off-centre within the sun, or if the orbit is really very eccentric, the eccentric
focus will be out in space away from the sun. Comets in elliptical orbit have such foci for example.
To draw yourself such a picture, draw an ellipse, showing the foci, and draw the sun round one focus. There you
have it!
Now, possibly you are bothered, because at one end of the orbit you have the planet scooting along an orbit
around a massive sun that holds it on course, and at the other end it follows exactly the same orbit round...
nothing???
Yes, sort of, but... there is another difference, isn't there? Speed!
Suppose you drop a satellite towards a distant primary, such as perhaps a star 150000000 km away, giving it just
enough sideways momentum to prevent it hitting the sun. It will fall first very slowly, then faster and faster as it
approaches the sun, but it will not pick up more momentum than the sun's gravity had contributed by pulling it
downwards (never mind Einstein at this point; it doesn't really affect us much.) This means that even when it is
travelling at nearly its fastest as it passes the sun, the sun doesn't let it escape, but pulls it round and swings it
back.
Because the sun now pulls back on the planet exactly as hard as it had been pulling it nearer, the planet slows
down exactly as quickly as it had speeded up and it necessarily follows an outward path exactly symmetrical with
its inward path. To be sure there is no gravitational mass at the other focus, but there does not need to be; when
the planet is near the empty, eccentric focus it is travelling at its slowest. The distant mass of the sun is adequate
to deal with its now small momentum.

For the 3rd law, assume a planet is in a circular orbit. This is because the perimeter of an ellipse is
extremely difficult to calculate, and the eccentricities of the elliptical orbits are small anyway.
The gravitational attractive force exerted on the planet by the Sun is given by the Newtonian formula F
= GMm/d where G is the gravitational constant, M is the mass of the Sun, m is the mass of the planet
and d is the Sun-to-planet distance.
The centripetal force needed to hold the planet in orbit is given by the expression F = mv/d where v is
the orbital velocity.
These two forces are the same.

Therefore GMm/d = mv/d


hence GM/d = v (eliminating m/d from both sides).
Now v, the orbital velocity, is given by 2d/p where p is the period of the planet.
Hence GM/d = 4d/p
and GM = 4d/p
Rearranging we have p/d = 4/GM
Since 4/GM is a constant we have Kepler's 3rd Law - the ratio of the square of the period of a
planet to the cube of its distance from the Sun is a constant.
Mar 27 10, 2:25 PM

here are two ways in which it is possible to


derive Kepler's second law from Newton's laws.
The first, presented by Newton in 1684, is a
geometrical method and is shown in Figure 36.

figure 36:

Newton's proof of Kepler's second law.

Newton visualized the motion of an object acted


on by a gravitational force as a succession of
small kicks or impulses which in the limit become
a continuously applied influence. Newton
imagined an object travelling along part of an
orbit AB which then receives an impulse directed
towards the point S. As a result, it then travels
along the line BC instead of Bc. Similar impulses
carry it to D, E andF. Newton visalized the
displacement BC as being, in effect, the
combination of the displacement Bc, equal to AB,
that the object would have undergone if it had
continued for an equal length of time with its
original velocity, together with the
displacement cCparallel to the line BS along

which the impulse was applied. This at once


yields Kepler's second law by a simple argument:
The triangles SAB and SBc are equal, having
equal bases (AB and Bc) and the same altitude.
The triangles SBc and SBC are equal, having a
common base (SB) and lying between the same
parallels. Hence triangle SAB = triangle SBC.
A modern Newtonian derivation of Kepler's
second law requires the concept of an orbiting
body's angular momentum
L = r X p = m (r X v)
where m is the body's mass, r is its position
vector and p its linear momentum (= mv,
where v is its velocity). Note that for the first
time in this course we distinguish between vector
quantities and scalar quantities by writing vector
quantities in a bold face. The vector cross
product (denoted by X) is an operation that
yields the product of the perpendicular
components of two vectors; hence ifr and p are
parallel, then r X p = 0. Angular momentum is a
vector quantity L with the units kgm s .
Differentiating L, we have
2

-1

dL/dt = d(r X p)/dt = v X p + r X (dp/dt)


=rXF
since v is parallel to p and dp/dt is the definition
of force according to Newton's second law. We
call dL/dt the torque (with units kgm s ) and see
that when F and r are co-linear, due to a central
force such as gravitation, the torque vanishes.
Hence L is constant in time and so angular
momentum is conserved for all central forces.
The conservation of angular momentum is a very
powerful tool in celestial mechanics and can be
used to derive Kepler's second law as follows.
2

-2

figure 37: The velocity components of a body in an elliptical


orbit.

A body is moving in an elliptical orbit with a


velocity v at a distance r from the
focus F (Figure 37). During a short time
interval t, the body moves from P to Q and the
radius vector sweeps through the angle
. This
small angle is approximately given by
=v
t / r, where v is the component
of v perpendicular to r. During this time, the
radius vector has swept out the triangle FPQ, the
area of which is approximately given by A = rv
t / 2. Therefore, in the limit given by
t approaching zero, we have
t

dA/dt = rv /2 = r (d /dt).
2

Now, the angular momentum of the body


in Figure 37 is given by the vector perpendicular
to the plane defined by r and v, i.e. it is out of
the plane of the paper. The scalar magnitude
of L is given by
L = mv r= mr d /dt.
t

This means that the rate of sweeping out area is


given by

dA/dt = r (d /dt) = L / 2m.


2

As L and m are constants, then dA/dt must be a


constant, i.e. the rate of sweeping out area is a
constant. Hence we have verified Kepler's second
law.