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Reduced mass

  1. Oct 11, 2012 #1
    Will any one help me to understand the concept of reduced mass , where does it come from and its physical significance
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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  4. Oct 11, 2012 #3
    The last two sentences in the Wikipedia article seems to suggest that it can be more than just a math trick.

     
  5. Oct 11, 2012 #4
    It is used to reduce a 2-body problem into a 1-body problem. Newton's 3rd law (equivalent to conservation of momentum) tells us that if two bodies act upon each other, they will both orbit the center of mass of the system, and the two trajectories will be similar (in the geometric sense). So, you only have to solve for the motion of one body around the center of mass. Reduced mass is a trick used to do this.
     
  6. Oct 11, 2012 #5

    Simon Bridge

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    And wikipedia is such a reliable source of subtle insights?

    The relationship mentioned in wikipedia is what makes the trick work.
    If the elements were not related, then it wouldn't work.
     
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