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Finding the orbital period

  1. Dec 3, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Is it possible to figure out the orbital period of an object with only the orbital radius given? --- It seems to be with the equations given too little information

    2. Relevant equations



    3. The attempt at a solution
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2009 #2

    D H

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    Do you know the central mass about which the object is orbiting?
     
  4. Dec 3, 2009 #3
    No... I am just assuming that the teacher forgot to give us the mass. I just wasn't sure if i was missing some kind of equation which would make that unnecessary. I understand that orbit is an elipse, and that what it orbits is one of the foci. is there any way to use that information without having the mass of what is being orbitted? The problem relates the central mass which it orbits (the earth), but gives us nothing about it. It's a test review question, so thats something that I wouldn't be able to look up during the actual test.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  5. Dec 3, 2009 #4

    Redbelly98

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    You are told that it is orbiting the Earth, so you are expected to look up the mass of the Earth; perhaps it is given in your textbook. I doubt the teacher forgot.

    On a test, that information would most likely be provided for you; I've never heard of a teacher who expects you to memorize the mass of the Earth for a physics test.
     
  6. Dec 3, 2009 #5

    ideasrule

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    Also, usually in introductory physics classes, only circular orbits are considered. The term "orbital radius" implies circles, as ellipses don't have a radius. You don't have to worry about elliptical orbits, foci, or anything like that.
     
  7. Dec 3, 2009 #6

    D H

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    Or more generally, interpret "orbital radius" to mean semi-major axis (a bit of a misnomer, but it is common). Once again you do not have to worry about eccentricity.
     
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