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# Gravitation

Points to Ponder

## 1. Newton’s Law of Gravitation: The magnitude of the gravitational

force of attraction between two particles of masses m1 and m2
separated by a distance r is given by
Gm1m2
F=
r2
Where G is called universal gravitational constant.
G = 6.67 × 10 - 11 Nm2/Kg2

## 2. The magnitude of the acceleration due to gravity (g) at the surface of

the earth is given by
GM
g=
R2
where M is the mass of the earth of radiusR.

## 3. The magnitude of the acceleration due to gravity (g1) at a point at a

distance r (r >R) from the centre of the earth is given by
GM GM
g' = =
2
r (R + h)2
Where h = altitude or the height of the point from the surface of the
earth.
2 2
g'  R   R 
= =
g  r   R + h 

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4. The critical or orbital velocity (VC) of a satellite, (moving in a circular
orbit of a radius r = R + h), is given by

GM GM gR2
VC = = = = g1 (R + h)
r R +h R +h
If the satellite is orbiting very close to the surface of the earth, i.e. if
h<<R, then

GM
VC = = gR
r
GM
(R + h) =
Vc2

## 5. The period (T) of a satellite revolving round the earth in a circular

r = R + h is given by

(R + h)3 2π (R + h)
T = 2π or T =
GM VC
R +h
Intermsof g1, T = 2π
g1

## 6. The binding energy of a body of mass m, when it is at rest on the

surface of the earth is
GMm
B.E =
R

2
7. For a satellite, performing a U.C.M., around the earth.
GMm
a) P.E. = −
R+h
1 GMm
b) K.E. = mVc2 =
2 2(R + h)
GMm
c) Total energy = −
2(R + h)
GMm
d) Binding energy =
2(R + h)

8. The escape velocity of a body projected from the surface of the earth,

2GM
VE = = 2gR
R

## 9. Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion

(i) Each planet revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit, with
the sun at one of the foci of the ellipse.
(ii) The straight line joining the sun and the planet or the radius
vector, sweeps out equal areas in equal intervals of time.
(iii) The squares of the periodic times (T2) of the planets about the
sun are proportional to the cubes of the semimajor axis (a) of

## the elliptical orbits i.e., T2 ∝ a3.

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10. Period of a satellite

(R + h)3 2 4π2
T = 2π ∴T = (R + h)3
GM GM
2 2 4π2 (R + h)3
Q GM = gR ∴T =
gR 2
∴T 2 ∝ (R + h)3 or T 2 ∝ r 3
This is Kepler’s law.

− GMm
11. Gravitational potential energy of a body of mass (m) is
R

## 12. An astronaut or anybody inside a satellite feels weightless as there in

no reaction of the satellite upon the astronaut.

13. For a body to escape from the earth’s gravitational influence, K.E. of
projection = Binding energy

14. Gravitational field intensity is the gravitational force per unit mass.

15. Variation of g:
(a) With altitude: At a height h,
 R2  −2
 h
gh = g   = g 1 + 
2  R
 (R + h) 

## Where R is the radius of the earth.

But if h << R ( h is very small as compared to R) then

 2h 
g h = g 1 − 
 R 
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(b) With depth:
 d
g d = g 1 − 
 R
Where d is the depth of the body below the surface of the earth.
At the centre of the earth, gd = 0.
Thus the value of g decreases with increase in height as well as
depth.
(c) With latitude: (effect of rotation of the earth)

## g' = g − ω 2 R cos2 λ, where λ is the latitude

At the equator λ = 0 ∴ gequator = g − Rω 2
At thepoles λ = 90° ∴ gpole = g .
This is the maximum value of g.
1
Q g∝ ∴gP > gE
R

## 16. For a communication or a geosynchronous satellite,

T = 24 hours. It moves in the equatorial plane from west to east with
a velocity of about 3.1 km/s.

2 4 π2 (R + h)3
QT =
gR 2

T 2 gR 2
∴ r = (R + h) = 3 ∴ h = r−R
4 π2

## The height of the communication satellite is about 36000 km.

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17. Useful Points:
(i) Gravitational force is a conservative force. It acts as an action-
reaction pair. The ratio of the gravitational force to the
electrostatic force between two electrons is of order of 10- 43.
(ii) The period of a satellite orbiting very close to the surface of the
(iii) The escape velocity of a body from the surface of the earth is
2.38 km/s.
(iv)

Work  W 
Gravitational potential =  
mass  m 
It is a measured in Joule/kg. It is a scalar quantity.
(v) If Vescape > Vrms of the molecules of a gas from a planet, there is
an atmosphere on the planet.
If Ve < Vrms, there is no atmosphere on the planet.

18.
GM
g= 2
R
Put mass M = volume × density
4
∴M = π R3ρ
3
Where R = radius of the earth
ρ = density of the earth

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4
∴g = πG R ρ
3
4 
As  π G  are constant
3 
g∝ρR

∴g∝ρ if R is constant

g∝R if ρ is constant

19. If δx is error in x.
δx
% error in x n = n × 100 %
x

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Solved Sums

1. If the speed of rotation of the earth about its axis increases, the
weight of a body at the equator will
(a) Decrease
(b) Increase
(c) Remain constant
(d) Some times increases and sometimes decreases
Solution
g' = g − Rω2 cos2 λ , where λ is the latitude and R is the radius of the
earth. From this expression, we find that as ω is increased g' is
decreased and hence the weight is also decreased. [Except at the
poles where λ = 90º ].

## 2. Where does a body has the maximum weight?

(a) At the poles (b) In an orbiting satellite
(c) At the equator (d) On the moon
Solution
The weight of the body depends upon the value of g. It is maximum at
the poles as gp > gE . Similarly in the orbiting satellite g = 0 and on the

g 1
moon gmoon = Hence the weight will be reduced to th of its
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weight on the surface of the earth.

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3. Gravitational force is a mutual force. Hence it is
(a) An action force.
(b) A reaction force.
(c) An action-reaction force.
(d) An action force but not a reaction force.
Solution
The gravitational force is an action-reaction force. The two masses
(bodies) exert equal and opposite forces of gravitational attraction on
each other.

4. If the earth suddenly stops rotating, then the value g at the equator
will
(a) Decrease (b) Increase
(c) Remain the same (d) Be zero
Solution
g ' = g − R ω2 cos2 λ , at the equator λ = 0

∴g' = g − R ω2
If the earth suddenly stops rotating then R ω2 will be zero and g’ = g
or g at the equator will increase.

5. Let gP and gE be the accelerations due to gravity at the poles and the
equator respectively. Assuming that the earth is a sphere of radius R,
rotating about its axis with angular velocity ω, then gP - gE is equal to

ω2 ω2
(a) R (b) Rω2 (c) R2ω2 (d) R2
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Solution
g ' = g − R ω2 cos2 λ
At the equator λ = 0,
∴ gE = g − R ω2

## At the poles λ = 90˚

∴ gP = g

∴ gp − gE = g − g − (−R ω2 ) = R ω2

## 6. A body weighs 72 N on the surface of the earth. What is the

gravitational force acting on it due to the earth at a height equal to
half the radius of the earth from the surface?
(a) 16 N (b) 32 N (c) 8 N (d) 48 N
Solution
g' GM R2
= ×
g (R + h)2 GM

R2 R2 4  R
= 2
=
9 2 9
= Q h = 2 
 R  
R + 2   4 R
   

∴ g' = 4 g
9

## ∴ Weight = gravitational force

4
= 72 × = 32N
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7. The mean radius of a planet is 6.67 × 103 km. The acceleration due
to gravity on its surface is 10 m/s2. If G = 6.67 × 10 -11 Nm2/kg2, then
the mass of the planet will be (R=6.67 × 106m)
(a) 6.67 × 10 20 kg (b) 6.67 × 102 4 kg
(c) 9.8 × 10 23 kg (d) 13.34 × 10 23 kg
Solution
GM
g=
R2
The radius of the planet = 6.67 x 10 3 km
= 6.67 x 10 6 m

gR2
∴ M =
G
10 × 6.67 × 106 × 6.67 × 106
=
6.67 × 10−11
= 6.67 × 10 24 kg.

8. If the mass of the earth remains constant but the diameter of the
earth becomes two times its present value, then the weight of a
person weighing 80 kg-wt, would be
(a) 20 kg-wt (b) 40 kg-wt
(c) 60 kg-wt (d) 80 kg-wt
Solution
Weight on the surface of the earth of radius R
m.GM
W = mg =
R2
If the radius of the earth is doubled,

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Then w ' = m. GM2 = 1  GMm 
(2R) 4  R 
2

w
∴w ' =
4
80
∴w ' = = 20kg
4
[It is assumed that the mass of the earth remains constant.]

## 9. The time period of a simple pendulum inside a stationary lift is 2

seconds. What would be its period, when the lift moves upwards with
g
an acceleration ?
4
4
(a) 2 sec (b) sec (c) 5 sec (d) 4 sec
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Solution
l
T1 = 2π in a stationary lift. When the lift moves up with an
g

g
acceleration , the resultant acceleration
4

g 5g l 4l
g' = g + = and T 2= 2π = 2π
4 4  5g  5g
4
 

T2 4l g 4 2
∴ = × = = but T1 = 2s
T1 5g l 5 5

2× 2 4
∴ T2 = = sec
5 5

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10. If the potential at the surface of the earth is assumed to be zero, then
the potential at infinity is given by
GM GM
− +
(a) 0 (b) ∞ (c) R (d) R
Solution
GM
The potential at the surface of the earth Vs = −
R

## To make it zero, we must add GM to it

R
GM
∴ Potential at infinity = +
R

11. If ρ is the mean density of the earth and R is its radius, then the
critical speed of a satellite revolving very close to the surface of the
earth is

Gπρ 3G
2R 2R
(a) 3 (b) πρ

πρ 3
2R 2R
(c) 3G (d) Gπρ

Solution
The critical speed of a satellite, revolving very close to the surface of
the earth is given by
GM 4
VC = but M = π R3ρ
R 3

G × 4 π R3ρ Gπρ
∴ VC = = 2R
R ×3 3

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12. The critical speed of satellite of mass 500 kg is 20 m/s. What is the
critical speed of a satellite of mass 1000 kg moving in the same orbit?
(a) 0 m/s (b) 20 km/hour
(c) 72 m/s (d) 72 km/hour
Solution
GM
The critical speed VC =
r
It does not depends upon the mass of the satellite
Vc = 20 m / s = 20 × 3600 m / hour
= 72000 m / h
= 72 km / hour

## 13. A satellite of a mass m revolves around the earth of radius R at a

height x from its surface. If g is the acceleration due to gravity on the
surface of the earth, then the orbital speed of the satellite is
1/2
 gR2 
  gR gR2
R + x 
(a)   (b) R − x (c) gh (d) R + x
Solution
GM
V0 =
R+X
But GM = g R2
gR 2
∴ V0 =
R+X
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14. Two satellites of masses M and 4M are orbiting the earth in a circular
orbit of radius r. Their frequencies of revolution are in the ratio of
(a) 1: 4 (b) 4 : 1 (c) 1 : 2 (d) 1 : 1
Solution

R3
The period of a satellite T = 2 π
GM
The period and the frequency are independent of the mass of the
satellite

T1 n 1
i.e. or 1 =
T2 n2 1

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