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Central Forces and particle of mass

  1. Mar 15, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    A particle of mass m moves under the influence of a central force given by F(r) = -k/r^n. If the particle's orbit is circular and passes through the force center r = 0. Show n = 5. Find the radius of the circular orbit.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I was able to find n = 5 fairly easily with the orbit equation, however I am having difficulties with the radius.
    so U(r) = -k/r^4

    The orbit equation:
    L/mr^2 dr/dphi = 1/m sqrt( 2m{E-U(r)} - L^2/r^2 )

    According to my professor, E = 0.
    Ueff = Lz^2 / (2mr^2) + -k/r^4
    I plotted Ueff and it's certainly different from Kepler's problem. I can kind of see how the parabola (E = 0) in Kepler's problem is equivalent to the circle in this problem but I can't mathematically prove it..

    So my question is:
    1) How do I really show that E = 0 for a circular orbit with this potential. (Integrating the orbit equation with this potential is not possible in terms of elementary functions as far as I know)
    I was under the impression that dUeff/dr = 0 for any central force potential, from plotting Ueff I can see that this point wouldn't yield a circle.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2009
  2. jcsd
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