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Homework 6 Solutions

Physics 103, Fall 2015


1. Taylor 8.12
a) By examining the eective potential energy (8.32) find the radius at which a planet (or
comet) with angular momentum ` can orbit the sun in a circular orbit with fixed radius. (b)
Show that this circular orbit is stable, in the sense that a small radial nudge will cause only
small radial oscillations. Show that the period of these oscillations is equal to the planets
orbital period.

a) We begin with the eective potential energy for a gravitational force:


`2
Ue = +
r 2r2

The planet can orbit at a fixed radius only if there is no force in the radial direction. This
corresponds to the derivative of the eective potential with respect to the radial coordinate
being zero, i.e., the planet is at an extremum of the potential. Taking that derivative and
solving for this equilibrium radius, which we will call r0 , we get
0=

r0 =

`2

dUe

dr r=r0
`2
0= 2 3
r0 r0
`2
0 = r0

b) For the orbit to be stable, the planet must be at a minimum of the potential. Therefore
the second derivative must be positive, or
0<

d2 Ue

dr2 r=r0
`2
0 < 2 3 + 3 4
r0
r0
1
`2
0 < 4 2 r0 + 3
r0

2
1`
0< 4
r0

where we used the expression for r0 in the last step. Indeed we see that this is positive
since the reduced mass must be positive.

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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From
the chapter on oscillations, we know that the frequency of oscillations is given by
! = k where k is the second derivative of the potential. We can write this as
12

1 `2
! = 4 2
r0
1 `
= 2
r0

To show that the orbital period is equal to the period of these oscillations, it is equivalent
to show that the angular velocity is equal to this frequency. As we have circular motion,
we can write
Fgrav = !02 r0
r02

Eliminating

using part a), we have

and we have ! = !0 as desired.

= !02 r0

!02 =

1
r03

!02 =

`2
2 r04

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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2. Taylor 8.13 Two particles whose reduced mass is interact via a potential energy U = 12 kr2 ,
where r is the distance between them. (a) Make a sketch showing U (r), the centrifugal potential energy Ucf (r), and the eective potential energy Ue (r). (Treat the angular momentum `
as a known, fixed constant.) (b) Find the equilibrium separation r0 , the distance at which
the two particles can circle each other with constant r. [Hint: This requires that dUe dr
be zero.] (c) By making a Taylor expansion of Ue (r) about the equilibrium point r0 and
neglecting all terms in (r r0 )3 and higher, find the frequency of small oscillations about the
circular orbit if the particles are disturbed a little from the separation r0 .

a) For two particles that interact via potential energy U = 12 kr2 , from equation (8.28) in
Taylor we have the centrifugal potential energy is
Ucf (r) =

`2
2r2

(1)

where ` is the angular momentum of the system and is the reduced mass. The eective
potential energy is given by
Ue (r) = U (r) + Ucf (r)
1
`2
= kr2 +
2
2r2

(2)

We can sketch all of the above curves.

b) In the central force problem, we assume we set the particles initially with r = 0, and so
they remain at a constant radius as long as r = 0. From equation (8.29) in Taylor, we have

r=

dUe
dr

(3)

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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We can solve

dUe
`2

= kr0 + 3 = 0
dr r=r0
r0
`2 14
r0 =
k

(4)

c) We can Taylor expand the eective potential about this equilibrium point
1

Ue (r) = Ue (r0 ) + Ue
(r0 )(r r0 ) + U e (r0 )(r r0 )2 + O((r r0 )3 )
2

(5)

The second term vanishes due to the definition of r0 being the equilibrium point. The first
term is just a constant. A oset in the potential has no eect on the dynamics since we

can always redefine the zero energy point to remove it. We can evaluate Ue
(r0 ) as

Ue

dUe
d[kr `2 r3 ]
=
=
= k + 3`2 r4
dr
dr

Ue
(r)r=r0 = k + 3`2 r04

Plugging in r0 from Eq. 4, we get

Ue
(r)r=r0 = k + 3(`2 )(k`2 ) = 4k

(6)

Therefore we see that the eective potential has the correct form for periodic oscillations
when (r r0 ) is small, i.e., Ue (r) = 12 k (r r0 )2 , where k = 4k. From the machinery built
up in the oscillations chapter, we can write the frequency of a particle of mass m in a
potential with eective spring constant k is given by

k
!=
(7)
m
In our case m is the reduced mass , and k = U e (r0 ) = 4k. Therefore we have
!=

4k

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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3. Taylor 8.17
If you did Problem 4.41 you met the virial theorem for a circular orbit of a particle in a central
force with U = krn . Here is a more general form of the theorem that applies to any periodic
orbit of a particle. (a) Find the time derivative of the quantity G = r p and, by integrating
from time 0 to t, show that
G(t) G(0)
= 2 T + F r
t
where F is the net force on the particle and f denotes the average over time of any quantity
f . (b) Explain why, if the particles orbit is periodic and if we make t sufficiently large, we can
make the left-hand side of this equation as small as we please. That is, the left side approaches
zero as t . (c) Use this result to prove that if F comes from the potential energy U = krn ,
then T = n U 2, if now f denotes the time average over a very long time.
a) First, we can dierentiate the quantity G to get
dG
= r p + r p
dt
= mr r + r F
= 2T + r F

If we integrate both sides from 0 to t and divide by t, we get


G(t) G(0)
= 2 T + F r
t

as integration on the right hand side is linear, and we used the fundamental theorem of
calculus (or a special case of the generalized Stokess theorem) on the right hand side.

b) As we are assuming we have a periodic orbit, we can assume that


r(t) < for all t, i.e. r
is always finite. Further, as Newtons laws give second order dierential equations for the
coordinates, our solutions must be twice dierentiable. Therefore r can never diverge for
finite r, and p must be finite for all t. Therefore G(t) < for all t.
These somewhat formal arguments allow us claim that in the limit as t , the left hand
side of the above equation goes like K 0 as we just argued K is finite (or it could be
zero).

c) Applying this limit to the equation derived in part a), we can solve to get
1
T = F r
2

If the potential is U = krn , the F = (@U @r)


r = nkrn1 r. Therefore F r = nkrn = nU .
We can put it all together and write
T =

n
U
2

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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4. Taylor 8.18
An earth satellite is observed at perigee to be 250 km above the earths
surface and traveling at about 8500 m/s. Find the eccentricity of its orbit and its height above
the earth at apogee. [Hint: The earths radius is Re 6.4 106 m. You will also need to know
GMe , but you can find this if you remember that GMe Re2 = g.]
Remember that any gravitational orbit is described by the two values of its conserved quantities ` and E. That is, if we know ` at any point on the orbit, then this must be the value of
angular momentum at all points on the orbit. Additionally, we know
c
rmin/max =
1
where c = `2 ( ). We were given the height from the earth at perigee, hp . Since perigee is
the closest approach to the center of the earth, we can find rmin as rmin = Re + hp All we need
to calculate is the coefficient c, which is given by

Where we remember

c=

`2
`2
=
GMe m2

= GMe m, and we have written the reduced mass for the system as
=

mMe
m
=
m + Me 1 + mMe
m2
m
Me
m

where we have done a Taylor series approximation for mM 1. We will assume the satellite
is at least a few orders of magnitude less in mass than the earth, so we can approximate m.

Further, we know that at perigee the velocity is orthogonal to the radius (and maximal), so
` = mrmin vmax . Therefore we have
c=

2
2
rmin
vmax
GMe

Finally, we can use the first equation to solve for


2
2
rmin
vmax
1
rmin =
GMe 1 +
2
rmin vmax
=
1
GMe

Plugging in numbers, we get that 0.197 . With this information and the formula for c, we
can get
c
rmax =
1
9910 km
Subtracting o the radius of the earth, we have

hmax 3510 km

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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5. Taylor 8.23 A particle of mass m moves with angular momentum ` in the field of a fixed
force center with
F (r) =

k
+
r2 r3

where k and are positive. (a) Write down the transformed radial equation (8.41) and prove
that the orbit has the form
r( ) =

c
1 + cos (

where c, , and are positive constants. (b) Find c and in terms of the given parameters,
and describe the orbit for the case that 0 < < 1. (c) For what values of is the orbit closed?
What happens to your results as 0?
a) Given a particle of mass m with angular momentum ` in the field of a fixed force center
with
F (r) =

k
+
r2 r3

(1)

we follow the same approach as Sect. 8.5 of Taylor and write down the transformed
equation in terms of u = 1r . First we can simply substitute
F (u) = ku2 + u3

(2)

Next by equation (8.41) from Taylor, the transformed radial equation for u as a function
of is

Plugging in the force (2), we have

u ( ) = u

mF
` 2 u2

(3)

u = u +

mk m
2 u
`2
`
m
mk
= 1 + 2 u + 2
`
`

(4)

To solve this dierential equation, we can use an ansatz which is really just another way
of saying guess and check. Our ansatz for the orbit will be
u( ) =

1
+ cos(
c c

(5)

where c, , and are undetermined constants. Our job is to show that (5) is indeed a
solution of (4) and determine these constants. Plugging in the ansatz directly we have

c
2

cos(

cos(

) = 1 +

m
1
mk
+ cos( ) + 2
2
`
c c
`
m
mk
m
) = 1 + 2 c 2 + 1 + 2 cos(
`
`
`

(6)

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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If we let
1 + m `2
c=
mk`2

r( ) =

c
1 + cos(

1+

m
`2

then the above equation (6) is satisfied for any value . Therefore our ansatz is a solution
of the equation (4), and the general orbit for the force (2) is given by

where the constants c and

are defined above, and is a free parameter.

b) We have already found the constants c and . As the magnitude of cosine is never bigger
than 1, if 0 < < 1 (which we can also write as (0, 1)), then the orbit has no singularities
(i.e. the denominator is never zero) and has a periodicity of 2 . Note that > 1, so the
orbit is not precisely elliptic as the periodicity of the radius is smaller than the 2.

c) For the orbit to close (i.e., repeat exactly), after has completed some integer number of
periods, which well call p, we must also have r complete some integer number of periods,
which well call q. This condition mathematically is
2 p =
=

q
p

or that the periodicity of the radius must be rational. Explicitly, if


are integers, then the orbit will close after p revolutions.

= qp where p and q

When 0, we have 1 and therefore the orbit closes after exactly one revolution,
and it is a Kepler ellipse.

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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6. Taylor 8.27 At time t0 a comet is observed at radius r0 traveling with speed v0 at an acute
angle to the line from the comet to the sun. Put the sun at the origin O, with the comet
on the x axis (at t0 ) and its orbit in the xy plane, and then show how you could calculate the
parameters of the orbital equation in the form r = c[1 + cos ( )]. Do so for the case that
r0 = 1.0 1011 m, v0 = 45 km/s, and = 50 degrees. [The suns mass is about 2.0 1030 kg.]
Given a comet of mass m orbiting the sun of mass M , at t0 we observe the comet with speed v0
at radius r0 traveling at angle with respect to the line with the sun. (This means that when
= 0 the comet is traveling directly toward the sun and when = the comet is traveling
directly away.) We know the orbital equation is of the form
c
r( ) =
(1)
1 + cos( )
and we must solve for the parameters c, , and .

First, we solve for c = `2 (GM m2 ). We know that the angular momentum is given by
` =
p r
= mv0 r0 sin

and therefore we have

v02 r02 sin2


c=
GM

Note that the unknown mass m has dropped out of the equations. Next, we can use the
equation for the total energy (8.58) to solve for .
G2 m 3 M 2 2
1
2
2`

2E`2
= 1+ 2 2 3
GM m

2Ev02 r02 sin2


= 1+
G2 M 2 m

E=

(2)

The total energy is given by the kinetic plus the potential energy
1
GM m
E = mv02
2
r0

Therefore we can plug this into equation (2) to get

2v02 r02 sin2 1 2 GM

=
1+
v0

G2 M 2
2
r0

and again the unknown mass m has dropped out. Finally, we can set our
at t0 we have = 0. Therefore the phase is given by
c
r0 =
1 + cos( )
1 c
= cos1 1
r0

(3)

coordinate so that

(4)

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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where as m has dropped out of c and , it has also dropped out of . Using the numerical
values given in the problem, we can calculate
c = 8.87 1010 m
= 0.753
= 1.72

The trajectory is shown below, with the axes drawn in meters.


@mD

-1.0 1011 -5.0 1010

-1 1011

-2 1011

-3 1011

5.0 1010 1.0 1011 1.5 1011

@mD

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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7. Taylor 8.29 What would become of the earths orbit (which you may consider to be a
circle) if half of the suns mass were suddenly to disappear? Would the earth remain bound
to the sun? [Hints: Consider what happens to the earths KE and PE at the moment of the
great disappearance. The virial theorem for the circular orbit (Problem 4.41) helps with this
one.] Treat the sun (or what remains of it) as fixed.
Before the cataclysm, the potential energy of the earth is
U0 =

and the kinetic energy is

GmE mS
R

T0 =

U0
2

by the virial theorem. After the cataclysm,


U0 U =

GmE (mS 2)
= U0 2.
R

The earths kinetic energy is unaected because the earth has the same velocity before and
after:

The total energy of the orbit is

T0 T = T0 =
E =T +U =

U0
2

U0 U0
+
=0
2
2

The eccentricity of the orbit with E = 0 is = 1 (see the table on page 315), i.e. the orbit
becomes parabolic. The orbital angular momentum of the earth is unchanged, and so the orbit,
which was once circular, becomes precisely the parabolic orbit tangent to the old circular orbit,
with c 2c (see eqn. 8.64) and 1.

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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8. Taylor 8.31 Consider the motion of two particles subject to a repulsive inverse-square
force (for example, two positive charges). Show that this system has no states with E < 0 (as
measured in the CM frame), and that in all states with E > 0, the relative motion follows a
hyperbola. Sketch a typical orbit. [Hint: You can follow closely the analysis of Sections 8.6
and 8.7 except that you must reverse the force; probably the simplest way to do this is to
change the sign of in Eq. (8.44) and all subsequent equations (so that F (r) = + r2 ) and
then keep itself positive. Assume ` 0.]

This makes the potential energy be U (r) = + r instead of the previously used r. So the
total energy, written in terms of only r changes from

to

1
`2
E = r 2 +

2
2r2 r

1
`2
E = r 2 +
+
2
2r2 r

Attractive force

(1)

Repulsive force

(2)

The first two terms are always positive, since r and r are squared. With the third term
positive in the case of a repulsive force, the total energy must always be positive.

Next we can follow through the derivation of section 8.6 in Taylor changing all the s to ,
and we find

and

`2 ( )
1 + cos

r( ) =

1+

2E`2
2

(3)

(4)

where and E are now both positive in these equations. That r( ) is a conic section, and
with > 1, due to positive E, it is a hyperbola. However, rather than curving around the
attractor, it curves away from a repeller.

Homework 6 Solutions, Physics 103

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9. Taylor 8.34 Suppose that we decide to send a spacecraft to Neptune, using simple transfer
described in Example 8.6. The craft starts in a circular orbit close to the earth (radius 1 AU or
astronomical unit) and is to end up in a circular orbit near Neptune (radius about 30 AU). Use
Keplers third law to show that the transfer will take about 31 years. (In practice we can do
a lot better than this by arranging that the craft gets a gravitational boost as it passes Jupiter.

Taylors figure 8.13 of example 8.6, which is reproduced below, shows the transfer path to be
taken. It is an ellipise with perihelion at the Earths orbit and aphelion at Neptunes orbit.
The length of the semi-major axis is a = 30+1
2 AU .
To find the period of the transfer orbit, we use Keplers third law:

where

2 = 4 2

a3

= GM in our center-of-mass description of the orbit. So,


2 = 4 2

a3
GM

(The period does not depend on the mass of the comet, only the total mass, M ). Since the
comets mass is negligibly small compared to the suns mass, it is a great approximation to
use M = Ms . So,
a3
2 = 4 2
GMs
Plugging in the constants:

G = 6.67 1011 Nm2 kg2


Ms = 1.99 1030 kg

we get,

1 AU = 1.5 1011 m
= 1.93 109 s

The time taken for the transfer is one half of a full period, so
Ttransfer = 0.97 109 s = 30.63 yrs

Gratuitous trivia: While it is a straightforward task to convert the time in seconds to years
using a calculator, you should also get in the habit of estimating things without a calculator;
being able to quickly make order of magnitude estimates is a standard physicist skill. To help
with that, youll want to build up a set of useful facts. One such fact is that one year is
approximately 107 seconds. So, 109 s 30 years is easy without a calculator.