central force

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A force acting on a particle, directed towards or away from a fixed point. The fixed point O may be called the centre of the field of force. A central force F on a particle P is given by F=f(r)r, where r is the position vector of P and r=|r|.

Examples are the gravitational force F=−{(GMm/r3)r, and the force F=−(k(r−l)/r)r due to an elastic string (see Hooke's law).

Subjects: Mathematics.

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