Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I Center of mass, Newton's third law, and rocket thrust

  1. Jul 30, 2017 #1
    Can someone clarify this for me-- how is the motion of the center of mass unaffected by internal forces, as is stated towards the end of the paragraph in the picture I've provided. It seems to me that motion of the center of mass directly affected by these internal forces. Specifically, the center of mass moves or undergoes motion because of the force of thrust that emerges from the rocket, which by Newton's third law, there is an equal and opposite force that causes the rocket (and the center of mass) to move forward. Can someone clarify this point for me?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2017 #2

    scottdave

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    It would be nice to see the context of this equations. Consider this. A 200 kg astronaut throws a 1 kg hammer. Does the astronaut's center of mass move? What about the hammer? Ok. What about the combined system of astronaut and hammer as they are flying away from each other?
     
  4. Jul 30, 2017 #3
    Center of mass would actually move for the combined system of astronaut and hammer. These are slides which briefly paraphrase Goldstein's classical mechanics-- these equations is newtons 2nd law for a system of particles.
     
  5. Jul 30, 2017 #4

    jbriggs444

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If you are considering the center of mass of the rocket alone, the reaction force between the rocket and its exhaust stream is an external force.
     
  6. Jul 30, 2017 #5
    So Goldstein says: "In order that the motion of the center of mass (didn't make reference to just the rocket alone, it is kind ambiguous) be unaffected, the ejection of the exhaust gases at high velocity must be counterbalanced by the forward motion of the vehicle." Can you elaborate what is being said? Is this what you are saying?
     
  7. Jul 30, 2017 #6

    jbriggs444

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Goldstein is considering the center of mass of the rocket plus exhaust stream. Accordingly, the force is internal and the center of mass is unaffected.
     
  8. Jul 30, 2017 #7
    I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this. If the thrust force is internal, and by Newton's third law, there is the reaction force that moves the rocket, how does this not induce or affect motion of the center of mass? And by the way, thanks for helping me understand this!
     
  9. Jul 31, 2017 #8

    Nugatory

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The exhaust moves to the left, the rocket moves to the right, and the center of mass of the rocket+exhaust system stays in the same place.
     
  10. Jul 31, 2017 #9

    scottdave

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I recommend working through my example to see how the center of mass postion changes. Say for 10 sec after the astronaut throws it and 100 seconds. Let's say velocity of the hammer is 20 m/s. What is the velocity of the astronaut?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted



Similar Discussions: Center of mass, Newton's third law, and rocket thrust
  1. Newton's third law (Replies: 4)

Loading...