(the upper bound of integration is arbitrary, as the potential is defined up to an additive constant).
because the torque exerted by the force is zero. As a consequence, the body moves on the plane perpendicular to the angular momentum vector and containing the origin, and obeys Kepler's second law. (If the angular momentum is zero, the body moves along the line joining it with the origin.)
It can also be shown that an object that moves under the influence of any central force obeys Kepler's second law. However, the first and third laws depend on the inverse-square nature of Newton's law of universal gravitation and do not hold in general for other central forces.
As a consequence of being conservative, these specific central force fields are irrotational, that is, its curl is zero, except at the origin:
Gravitational force and Coulomb force are two familiar examples with being proportional to 1/r2 only. An object in such a force field with negative (corresponding to an attractive force) obeys Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
The force field of a spatial harmonic oscillator is central with proportional to r only and negative.
By Bertrand's theorem, these two, and , are the only possible central force fields where all bounded orbits are stable closed orbits. However, there exist other force fields, which have some closed orbits.
a This article uses the definition of central force given in Taylor. Another common definition (used in ScienceWorld) adds the constraint that the force be spherically symmetric, i.e. .
- Taylor, John R. (2005). Classical Mechanics. Sausalito, Calif.: Univ. Science Books. p. 93. ISBN 1-891389-22-X.
- Taylor, John R. (2005). Classical Mechanics. Sausalito, Calif.: Univ. Science Books. pp. 133–138. ISBN 1-891389-22-X.
- Eric W. Weisstein (1996–2007). "Central Force". ScienceWorld. Wolfram Research. Retrieved 2008-08-18.