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Jump to: navigation, search “Centre of gravity” redirects here. For the military concept, see Center of gravity (military). For barycenters in geometry, see centroid. The center of mass or mass center is the mean location of all the mass in a system. In the case of a rigid body, the position of the center of mass is fixed in relation to the body. In the case of a loose distribution of masses in free space, such as shot from a shotgun or the planets of the solar system, the position of the center of mass is a point in space among them that may not correspond to the position of any individual mass. The use of the mass center often allows the use of simplified equations of motion, and it is a convenient reference point for many other calculations in physics, such as angular momentum or the moment of inertia. In many applications, such as orbital mechanics, objects can be replaced by point masses located at their mass centers for the purposes of analysis. The term center of mass is often used interchangeably with center of gravity, but they are physically different concepts. They happen to coincide in a uniform gravitational field, but where gravity is not uniform, center of gravity refers to the mean location of the gravitational force acting on a body. This results in small but measurable gravitational torque that must be accounted for in the operation of artificial satellites. Barycenter may also refer to the center of mass, but is most commonly used in orbital mechanics to refer to the point where the gravitational forces exerted by two objects cancel. The center of mass of a body does not generally coincide with its geometric center, and this property can be exploited. Engineers try to design a sports car's center of mass as low as possible to make the car handle better. When high jumpers perform a "Fosbury Flop", they bend their body in such a way that it is possible for the jumper to clear the bar while his or her center of mass does not.[1] The center of momentum frame is an inertial frame defined as the inertial frame in which the center of mass of a system is at rest. A specific center of momentum frame in which the center of mass is not only at rest, but also at the origin of the coordinate system, is sometimes called the center of mass frame, or center of mass coordinate system.

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1 Definition 2 Examples 3 History

The center of mass of a ring is at the center of the ring (in the air).3 Of a composite shape o 10. for details. more precisely. [edit] Examples • • • The center of mass of a two-particle system lies on the line connecting the particles (or.2 Of an L-shaped object o 10. For a continuous distribution with mass density integral: and total mass M. The center of mass of a solid triangle lies on all three medians and therefore at the centroid.1 Aeronautical significance 9 Barycenter in astrophysics and astronomy o 9. mi: . which is also the average of the three vertices.4 By tracing around the perimeter of an object 11 See also 12 Notes 13 References 14 External links [edit] Definition The center of mass of a system of particles is defined as the average of their positions. their individual centers of mass). see below. weighted by their masses.1 Animations 10 Locating the center of mass o 10.1 Of an arbitrary 2D physical shape o 10. . The center of mass is closer to the more massive object.• • • • • • • • • • • 4 Derivation of center of mass 5 Alternative derivation 6 Rotation and centers of mass 7 CM frame 8 Engineering o 8. the sum becomes an If an object has uniform density then its center of mass is the same as the centroid of its shape.

and acts on one or more particles within the system. This velocity can be computed by taking the time derivative of the position of the center of mass. The total momentum for any system of particles is given by Where M indicates the total mass. In a spherically symmetric body. An internal force is a force caused by the interaction of the particles within the system. electric fields. The external force need not be due to a uniform field. In work on floating bodies he demonstrated that the orientation of a floating object is the one that makes its center of mass as low as possible. [edit] History The concept of center of mass was first introduced by the ancient Greek mathematician. including magnetic fields. An analogue to Newton's Second Law is . in particular a triangle. An external force is a force that originates from outside the system. and al-Khazini.[2] Newton's second law is refomulated with respect to the center of mass in Euler's first law. for any symmetry of a body. its center of mass will be a fixed point of that symmetry. and vcm is the velocity of the center of mass. a hemisphere. theories on the center of mass were further developed by Abū Rayhān Bīrūnī. chemical reactions. Archimedes showed that the torque exerted on a lever by weights resting at various points along the lever is the same as what it would be if all of the weights were moved to a single point — their center of mass. More generally. This approximately applies to the Earth: the density varies considerably. and so on. the center of mass moves with constant velocity. and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse. the center of mass is at the center. and a frustum (of a circular paraboloid). physicist. This applies for all systems with classical internal forces. but it mainly depends on depth and less on the latitude and longitude coordinates.• • • The center of mass of a rectangle is at the intersection of the two diagonals. [edit] Derivation of center of mass The following equations of motion assume that there is a system of particles governed by internal and external forces. Zakaria Razi (Latinized as Rhazes). Omar Khayyám. For any system with no external forces. He developed mathematical techniques for finding the centers of mass of objects of uniform density of various well-defined shapes. this is true for any internal forces that satisfy the weak form of Newton's Third Law. In the Middle Ages. More formally.

Symmetry demands that these relations remain true when the subscripts 1 and 2 are interchanged everywhere. for any system of masses. This is particularly useful for two-body systems. The constant k should obviously depend only on the masses m1 and m2. since: and then We therefore have a vectorial definition for center of mass in terms of the total forces in the system. d1 = (D/M)m2 and d2 = (D/M)m1. This means d2 = D. [edit] Alternative derivation Consider first two bodies. where is the total mass of the system and is a vector yet to be defined. it is clear that if m2 = 0. Write M = m1 + m2 for the total mass of the 2-body system. Assuming the total mass M is nonzero. the center of mass should coincide with body 1. In particular. Letting the total internal force of the system. and position vectors r1 and r2. where d1 is the distance from the center of mass to body 1. By geometry. and d1 = 0. that the center of mass lie within the convex hull of the system. Taking magnitudes on both sides of this equation. we get d1 = kd2. for a pair of mass points.Where F indicates the sum of all external forces on the system. and R for the position vector of the center of mass. the total distance between the two bodies.R) for some positive constant k. and acm indicates the acceleration of the center of mass. with masses m1 and m2. The simplest model satisfying these requirements is the linear one. . and m1 = M.r1 = k(r2 . and d2 is the distance from the center of mass to body 2. this means that the tip of R must lie on the line segment joining the tips of r1 and r2. R . It is reasonable to require. and we will examine the nature of this dependence.

we have k = d1/d2 = m2/m1. Temporarily break the symmetry between the three bodies. of mass m3 and position r3. and yields the formula So our simple model of the 2-body center of mass uniquely and consistently determines the corresponding formula in any number of mass points.Under this model. or bodies 1 and 3. instead of bodies 1 and 2. the sum of the momenta of a number of bodies is the momentum of their center of mass. The formula derived above gives Since R turns out to be symmetric in the mi and ri. Therefore. it would not have mattered had we started by combining bodies 2 and 3. after multiplying our vector equation by m1. [edit] Rotation and centers of mass . we find that m1(R . This kind of reasoning clearly extends to any number of masses. It is this principle that gives precise expression to the intuitive notion that the system as a whole behaves like a mass of M placed at R. Thus. and define the 3-body center of mass as the 2-body center of mass determined by body 3 together with a single body of mass M0 = m1 + m2 placed at the center of mass of bodies 1 and 2. and justifies our simple linear model of the onedimensional center of mass.. or (m1 + m2)R = m1r1 + m2r2. Writing M = m1 + m2 + . Now suppose there is a third body..e. the above formula for the center of mass may be expressed in the form Differentiating both sides yields the principle that i. whose position vector we now denote by R0.r1) = m2(r2 − R). + mn..

The suspending chair trick makes use of the human body's center of mass. then the center of mass does not necessarily exhibit these convenient properties concerning gravity. The center of mass is often called the center of gravity because any uniform gravitational field g acts on a system as if the mass M of the system were concentrated at the center of mass R.Diagram of an educational toy that balances on a point: the CM (C) settles below its support (P). The gravitational torque on a system equals the torque of a force Mg acting at R: If the gravitational field acting on a body is not uniform. and the fact that it's surprisingly high. Any object whose CM is below the fulcrum will not topple. This is seen in at least two ways: • • The gravitational potential energy of a system is equal to the potential energy of a point particle having the same mass M located at R. As the situation is put in Feynman's influential textbook The Feynman Lectures on Physics:[citation needed] .

In fact. [edit] Aeronautical significance ."The center of mass is sometimes called the center of gravity.. . Symon. in his textbook Mechanics. plus the angular momentum of the center of mass.. This usage seems to imply a well-defined "center of gravity" concept for non-uniform fields.. "the center of gravity" departs from the CM.The general problem of determining the gravitational forces between bodies is usually best treated by means of the concepts of the field theory of gravitation. one simply does not speak of a "center of gravity".. This section requires expansion.. it is sufficient to use centers of mass to find the overall motion. as when the bodies are far apart. even relative to each other. as Symon says: "For two extended bodies.[3] [edit] CM frame Main article: Center of mass frame The angular momentum vector for a system is equal to the angular momentum of all the particles around the center of mass.." Even when considering tidal forces on planets. as if it were a single particle of mass M: This is a corollary of the Parallel Axis Theorem. for non-uniform fields. shows that the center of gravity of an extended body must always be defined relative to an external point. in many cases.." Many authors have been less careful. That is why one must distinguish between the center of mass and the center of gravity. In practice. or when one of them is a sphere. and it departs slightly from the center of mass. then the center where one must apply the balancing force is not simple to describe. no unique centers of gravity can in general be defined. gravity may be considered uniform. at which location resides a point mass that is exerting a gravitational force on the object in question. [edit] Engineering This section requires expansion. stating that when gravity is not uniform.In case the object is so large that the nonparallelism of the gravitational forces is significant. except in special cases. for the reason that.

When a moon orbits a planet. and possibly so unstable that it is impossible to fly. The barycenter (or barycentre.The center of mass is an important point on an aircraft. but a point on a line between the Earth and the Moon approximately 1. and the like (see two-body problem). the moon does not orbit the exact center of the Earth. . both bodies are actually orbiting around a point that lies outside the center of the primary (the larger body). To ensure the aircraft is safe to fly. astrophysics. This range varies by aircraft. The barycenter is one of the foci of the elliptical orbit of each body. For example. the aircraft will be less maneuverable. it is critical that the center of mass fall within specified limits. which significantly affects the stability of the aircraft. which makes it more difficult to recover from a stalled condition. the moment arm of the elevator is reduced. from the Greek βαρύκεντρον) is the point between two objects where they balance each other. where their respective masses balance. or a planet orbits a star. possibly to the point of being unable to rotate for takeoff or flare for landing. If the center of mass is behind the aft limit. but as a rule of thumb it is centered about a point one quarter of the way from the wing leading edge to the wing trailing edge (the quarter chord point). This is an important concept in the fields of astronomy. it is the center of mass where two or more celestial bodies orbit each other.710 km below the surface of the Earth. but also less stable. The aircraft will be more maneuverable. If the center of mass is ahead of the forward limit. This is the point about which the Earth and Moon orbit as they travel around the Sun. For example. [edit] Barycenter in astrophysics and astronomy Motion of Barycenter of solar system relative to the Sun.

000 0. and r1/R1.121 mPluto) Both bodies have distinct orbits around the barycenter.0021 Charon 19.000254 Pluto 0. r1 is essentially the semi-major axis of the primary's orbit around the barycenter—and r2 = a − r1 the semi-major axis of the secondary's orbit.000 696.07 (0.000955 mSun) (5.150 1. The last two columns show R1. Figures are given rounded to three significant figures. 0. the barycenter of the Sun-planet system will lie outside the Sun only if: .20 AU) The Sun orbits a barycenter just above its surface.000 4.000. and as such Pluto and Charon were considered as a double planet by many before the redefinition of planet in August 2006. the ratio of the distance to the barycenter and that radius: a value less than one shows that the barycenter lies inside the first body. r1.110 1.000. the distance from the center of the primary to the barycenter is given by: where: a is the distance between the centers of the two bodies.380 0.In a simple two-body case.000646 (1 AU) The Sun's wobble is barely perceptible.000 Sun 333.000 Sun 333.83 (0.0123 384. m1 (mE=1) Smaller body Larger body If m1 ≫ m2—which is true for the Sun and any planet—then the ratio r1/R1 approximates to: Hence.000 Jupiter 742. that body will appear to "wobble" rather than following a discernible orbit. Where the barycenter is located within the more massive body. Examples m2 a r1 R1 r1/R1 (mE=1) (km) (km) (km) Remarks Earth 1 Moon 0. m1 and m2 are the masses of the two bodies. 318 778.000 1. The following table sets out some examples from our solar system.670 6. the radius of the first (more massive) body.600 2. 150.732 The Earth has a perceptible "wobble".000 Earth 1 449 696.

0484. and it is possible in some systems for the barycenter to be sometimes inside and sometimes outside the more massive body. etc.000 km from the center).900. If Jupiter had Mercury's orbit (57. just fails to qualify: 1. and the distance between the bodies varies between the apses.07 > 0.05 ≯ 1. of the solar system (see n-body problem). [edit] Animations Images are representative (made by hand). the combined center of mass would lie about 500. (similar to the 90 Antiope system) Two bodies with a difference in Two bodies with a major mass orbiting around a difference in mass orbiting common barycenter. If all the planets were aligned on the same side of the Sun. you would need to sum all the influences from all the planets.08). Hence. comets. asteroids.000 km. Two bodies of similar mass orbiting around a common barycenter.That is. the Sun-Jupiter barycenter would be only 5. depending on the eccentricity. To calculate the actual motion of the Sun.500 km from the center of the Sun (r1/R1 ~ 0.387 AU). The calculations above are based on the mean distance between the bodies and yield the mean value r1. This occurs where: Note that the Sun-Jupiter system. But all celestial orbits are elliptical. e.000 km above the Sun's surface. 0. with eJupiter = 0. where the planet is heavy and far from the Sun. as in the around a common barycenter Pluto-Charon system. (similar to the Earth-Moon Two bodies with difference in ma around a commo (similar to the Su . the position of the barycenter varies too.954. But even if the Earth had Eris' orbit (68 AU). the Sun-Earth barycenter would still be within the Sun (just over 30. not simulated.

[edit] Of an L-shaped object This is a method of determining the center of mass of an L-shaped object. Drop a plumb line Step 1: An arbitrary 2D shape. It relies on finding the center of mass of a thin body of homogenous density having the same shape as the complex planar shape. of the two lines is the center of mass. plumb line and mark on the again and mark. Drop a the first.system) system) Two bodies with similar mass orbiting around a common barycenter with elliptic orbits (a common situation for binary stars) [edit] Locating the center of mass [edit] Of an arbitrary 2D physical shape This method is useful when one wishes to find the centroid of a complex planar shape with unknown dimensions. . The intersection object. Step 3: Suspend the shape from Step 2: Suspend the shape from another location not too close to a location near an edge.

we note the coordinates of the individual centroids. [edit] Of a composite shape This method is useful when one wishes to find the location of the centroid or center of mass of an object that is easily divided into elementary shapes. The shape. As the center of mass of the shape must lie along AB and also along CD. Find the center of masses of these two rectangles by drawing the diagonals. whose centers of mass are easy to find (see List of centroids). It is easily divided into a square. Draw a line joining the centers of mass. Here the center of mass will only be found in the x direction. The point O might not lie inside the L-shaped object. The center of mass of the L-shape must lie on this line CD. 3. Divide the shape into two other rectangles. Draw a line joining the centers of mass. Note that the circle will have negative area. as shown in fig 3. The same procedure may be followed to locate the center of mass in the y direction. 2. at O. Divide the shape into two rectangles. and circle. From the List of centroids. The center of mass of the shape must lie on this line AB. Find the centers of mass of these two rectangles by drawing the diagonals.1. it is obvious that it is at the intersection of these two lines. . as shown in fig 2. triangle.

.5 units from the left corner of the figure.From equation 1 above: units. The center of mass of this figure is at a distance of 8.

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