A force whose line of action is always directed toward a fixed point. The central force may attract or repel. The point toward or from which the force acts is called the center of force. If the central force attracts a material particle, the path of the particle is a curve concave toward the center of force; if the central force repels the particle, its orbit is convex to the center of force. Undisturbed orbital motion under the influence of a central force satisfies Kepler's law of areas. See also: Celestial mechanics
Duncombe, Raynor L. Formerly, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.
Last reviewed:January 2020
Related Primary Literature
- A. Fonda and A. C. Gallo, Periodic perturbations with rotational symmetry of planar systems driven by a central force, J. Differ. Equ., 264(12):7055–7068, 2018 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jde.2018.02.009
- M. Nauenberg, Newton's graphical method for central force orbits, Am. J. Phys., 86(10):765–771, 2018 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1119/1.5050620
- R. Abraham et al., Foundations of Mechanics, 2nd ed., CRC Press, 2018