Gravitational Potential Energy

# Gravitational Potential Energy - Gravitational Potential...

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Gravitational Potential Energy In chapter 8 we have discussed the relation between the force and the potential energy. Consider two particles of masses m 1 and m 2 , separated by a distance r. In the gravitational field it is convenient to define the zero potential energy configuration to be one in which the two particles are separated by a large distance (infinity). Suppose the two masses are brought together (distance r) from infinity, along the path connecting the centers of the two masses. The work done by the gravitational force can be calculated as follows (note that the force F and the position vector r are pointed in an opposite direction, and the angle between them is 180deg.). The potential energy U(r) is now given by The potential energy is always negative and is a property of the two masses together rather than of either mass alone. We can verify our calculation by using U(r) to calculate the gravitational force which is of course equal to Newton's law of gravity. The work done by the gravitational force depends only on its initial and its final position, and not

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## This document was uploaded on 11/25/2011.

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Gravitational Potential Energy - Gravitational Potential...

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