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- Newton's law of gravitation review
Review the key concepts, equations, and skills for Newton's law of gravity, including how to find the gravitational field strength.
|Gravitational force (
|Attractive force between two objects with mass.
|A model explaining the influence an object extends to produce a force on other objects.
|Gravitational field strength (
|The numerical value of the gravitational field at a point in space. SI units of
|Inertial mass (
|Two objects have the same inertial mass if they experience the same acceleration given the same force. This is the same mass used in Newton’s second law. Experimentally equivalent to gravitational mass. Has SI units of
|Gravitational mass (
|The property of matter that causes it to experience a force in a gravitational field. Two objects that balance each other on a scale have the same gravitational mass. Experimentally equivalent to inertial mass. Has SI units of
|Meaning in words
|The gravitational force between point-like masses
|The gravitational field strength is directly proportional to mass creating the field and inversely proportional to the square of the distance.
Newton's universal law of gravitation
is always attractive, and it depends only on the masses involved and the distance between them. Every object in the universe attracts every other object with a force along a line joining them.
The equation for Newton’s law of gravitation is:
The force is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers of mass. This is called an inverse-square law.
For example, if we double the distance between the Earth and the Moon, the attractive force between them would go down (because it is inverse), and it would go down by a factor of
instead of (because of the square).
It describes both objects falling down and those in a circular orbit, such as a satellite around Earth.
How to find the gravitational field strength
All objects attract other objects by producing a gravitational field
, which is defined by the gravitational force per unit mass. We find the strength of this gravitational field of mass on any object with mass by dividing our above equation by mass .
Często spotykane błędy i nieporozumienia
- Some people forget that gravity causes attraction between all objects. Every mass attracts every other mass. That means you are even gravitationally attracted to your friend, your pet, and even your pizza.
- People forget that the force of gravity is inversely proportional to
instead of just . As the distance increases, the force of gravity decreases by a factor of .
- Sometimes people forget that
is the distance between the centers of mass. We measure the distance between objects from their centers, not their surfaces.
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For deeper explanations of Newton's law of gravitation, see our videos: