angmomcons - With the development of Newton's laws of...

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With the development of Newton's laws of motion and of gravity, Kepler's laws could now be understood not only as useful calculational devices for astronomers, but also as expressions of fundamental physical laws. For instance the first or ellipse law was shown by Newton to be a natural consequence of gravity being a force whose strength fell off as the inverse square power of the distance from the source. The second or area law was shown by Newton to have even more far reaching significance. It is now better known (to physicists) as the law of conservation of angular momentum. The momentum of an object (the product of its mass or intertia and its velocity) is conserved for any closed system (such as the solar system) and this is true not only for momentum in straight lines, but also for rotating motion, which is expressed in terms of angular momentum (the mathematical details of which need not concern us). What implications does conservation of angular momentum have for our study of the solar system? 1. Angular momentum = ability to orbit: when we say a body has large angular momentum, we mean that when pulled on gravitationally it will not just fall, but will orbit, or even fly away, or escape from the pull altogether. 2. Transfer of angular momentum. Although objects maintain their angular
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This note was uploaded on 03/15/2011 for the course ASTR 2003 taught by Professor Bursick,s during the Spring '08 term at Arkansas.

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angmomcons - With the development of Newton's laws of...

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