Two Limiting Cases

# Two Limiting Cases - Two Limiting Cases We can gain further...

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Two Limiting Cases We can gain further insight by considering the position of the center of mass in two limits. First consider the example just addressed, where one mass is much larger than the other. Then, we see that the center of mass for the system essentially concides with the center of the massive object: This is the situation in the Solar System: the Sun is so massive compared with any of the planets that the center of mass for a Sun-planet pair is always very near the center of the Sun. Thus, for all practical purposes the Sun IS almost (but not quite) motionless at the center of mass for the system, as Kepler originally thought. However, now consider the other limiting case where the two masses are equal to each other. Then it is easy to see that the center of mass lies equidistant from the two masses and if they are gravitationally bound to each other, each mass orbits the common center of mass for the system lying midway between them: This situation occurs commonly with binary stars

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Two Limiting Cases - Two Limiting Cases We can gain further...

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