Gravitational potential energy

In summary, a 5.2 kg particle and a 2.4 kg particle have a gravitational attraction of 2.3E-12 N with a gravitational potential energy of -4.40e-11J at a distance of 19.03m. If the distance between the particles is tripled, the work done by an external force would be equal to the change in gravitational potential energy. The definition of gravitational potential energy is the energy an object possesses due to its position in a gravitational field.
  • #1
bearhug
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0
A 5.2 kg particle and a 2.4 kg particle have a gravitational attraction of magnitude 2.3E-12 N.
Gravitational potential energy is -4.40e-11J and r=19.03m

If you were to triple the distance between these particles, how much work is done by you on the particles?

My biggest problem here is that I don't know what equation I should use to find the work done. My book doesn't explain it very well. The first part of the question I figured out fine but this is where I'm stuck. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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  • #2
What is the definition (not the equation) of gravitaional potential energy? Hint: it has something to do with work.
 
  • #3
The work done on the system is a change in gravitational potential energy.
 
  • #4
Nevermind, what I just posted is what I needed to know, I figured it out. Thanks for your hint.
 

1. What is gravitational potential energy?

Gravitational potential energy is the energy that an object possesses due to its position in a gravitational field. It is the amount of work required to move an object from a reference point to its current position against the force of gravity.

2. How is gravitational potential energy calculated?

The gravitational potential energy of an object can be calculated using the formula U = mgh, where U is the potential energy, m is the mass of the object, g is the acceleration due to gravity, and h is the height of the object above the reference point.

3. What is the relationship between height and gravitational potential energy?

The higher an object is located above the reference point, the greater its gravitational potential energy. This is because the force of gravity increases as the distance between the object and the Earth's center decreases, resulting in more potential energy.

4. Can gravitational potential energy be negative?

Yes, gravitational potential energy can be negative. This occurs when the object is below the reference point, and the force of gravity is working to pull the object closer to the Earth's center. The reference point is typically chosen to be at ground level, so any object above ground level will have positive potential energy, while objects below ground level will have negative potential energy.

5. How is gravitational potential energy related to kinetic energy?

Gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy are both forms of mechanical energy. As an object falls from a higher position to a lower position, its potential energy decreases while its kinetic energy increases. At the bottom of its fall, all of its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. This relationship is described by the law of conservation of energy.

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