**Are you an EPFL student looking for a semester project?**

Work with us on data science and visualisation projects, and deploy your project as an app on top of GraphSearch.

Concept# Center of mass

Summary

In physics, the center of mass of a distribution of mass in space (sometimes referred to as the balance point) is the unique point at any given time where the weighted relative position of the distributed mass sums to zero. This is the point to which a force may be applied to cause a linear acceleration without an angular acceleration. Calculations in mechanics are often simplified when formulated with respect to the center of mass. It is a hypothetical point where the entire mass of an object may be assumed to be concentrated to visualise its motion. In other words, the center of mass is the particle equivalent of a given object for application of Newton's laws of motion.
In the case of a single rigid body, the center of mass is fixed in relation to the body, and if the body has uniform density, it will be located at the centroid. The center of mass may be located outside the physical body, as is sometimes the case for hollow or open-shaped objects, such as a horseshoe. In the case of a distribution of separate bodies, such as the planets of the Solar System, the center of mass may not correspond to the position of any individual member of the system.
The center of mass is a useful reference point for calculations in mechanics that involve masses distributed in space, such as the linear and angular momentum of planetary bodies and rigid body dynamics. In orbital mechanics, the equations of motion of planets are formulated as point masses located at the centers of mass. The center of mass frame is an inertial frame in which the center of mass of a system is at rest with respect to the origin of the coordinate system.
The concept of center of gravity or weight was studied extensively by the ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse. He worked with simplified assumptions about gravity that amount to a uniform field, thus arriving at the mathematical properties of what we now call the center of mass.

Official source

This page is automatically generated and may contain information that is not correct, complete, up-to-date, or relevant to your search query. The same applies to every other page on this website. Please make sure to verify the information with EPFL's official sources.

Related concepts (99)

Related people (1)

Related courses (34)

Center of mass

In physics, the center of mass of a distribution of mass in space (sometimes referred to as the balance point) is the unique point at any given time where the weighted relative position of the distributed mass sums to zero. This is the point to which a force may be applied to cause a linear acceleration without an angular acceleration. Calculations in mechanics are often simplified when formulated with respect to the center of mass. It is a hypothetical point where the entire mass of an object may be assumed to be concentrated to visualise its motion.

Classical mechanics

Classical mechanics is a physical theory describing the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery and astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galaxies. For objects governed by classical mechanics, if the present state is known, it is possible to predict how it will move in the future (determinism), and how it has moved in the past (reversibility). The "classical" in "classical mechanics" does not refer classical antiquity, as it might in, say, classical architecture.

Barycenter

In astronomy, the barycenter (or barycentre; ) is the center of mass of two or more bodies that orbit one another and is the point about which the bodies orbit. A barycenter is a dynamical point, not a physical object. It is an important concept in fields such as astronomy and astrophysics. The distance from a body's center of mass to the barycenter can be calculated as a two-body problem. If one of the two orbiting bodies is much more massive than the other and the bodies are relatively close to one another, the barycenter will typically be located within the more massive object.

Related units (1)

Related MOOCs (1)

PHYS-101(a): General physics : mechanics

Le but du cours de physique générale est de donner à l'étudiant les notions de base nécessaires à la compréhension des phénomènes physiques. L'objectif est atteint lorsque l'étudiant est capable de pr

PHYS-100: Advanced physics I (mechanics)

La Physique Générale I (avancée) couvre la mécanique du point et du solide indéformable. Apprendre la mécanique, c'est apprendre à mettre sous forme mathématique un phénomène physique, en modélisant l

PHYS-101(f): General physics : mechanics

Le but du cours de physique générale est de donner à l'étudiant les notions de base nécessaires à la compréhension des phénomènes physiques. L'objectif est atteint lorsque l'étudiant est capable de pr

Related lectures (523)

Central Motion: Forces and OrbitsPHYS-101(a): General physics : mechanics

Covers moment of a force, angular momentum, and central motion in physics, including Kepler's laws and Newton's theory of universal gravitation.

Central Motion: Forces and KineticsPHYS-101(a): General physics : mechanics

Explores the moment of a force, angular momentum, and central motion, including historical perspectives and mathematical representations.

Ballistics: Newton's Laws and FrictionPHYS-101(a): General physics : mechanics

Explores Newton's laws in ballistics with air friction and the impact of viscous friction on projectile trajectories.