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12.3: Center of Gravity

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Center of Gravity

12.3: Center of Gravity

The center of gravity (COG) of an object is the point where the object's total weight is considered to be concentrated. Knowing the location of the center of gravity is useful when predicting the behavior of a moving object or designing static structures. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of gravity is similar to the center of mass (COM); yet, these two points can be positioned differently. For example, the Moon's center of mass lies very close to its geometric center, but its center of gravity is shifted slightly towards the Earth due to the Earth's stronger gravitational force.

In an equilibrium situation, one of the forces acting on any body is its weight. In free-body diagrams, the weight vector is attached to the center of gravity of the body. The center of gravity for symmetrical objects is the same as the object's geometric center. However, the center of gravity for an asymmetrical object is located at some distance away from the object's geometric center. In the case of irregularly shaped objects, the center of gravity can lie outside the object or at a point external to the physical material. In practical situations, however, even objects as large as buildings or cruise ships are located in a uniform gravitational field on the Earth’s surface, where the acceleration due to gravity has a constant magnitude. In these situations, the center of gravity is identical to the center of mass.

This text is adapted from Openstax, University Physics Volume 1, Section 12.1: Conditions for Static Equilibrium.


Center Of Gravity COG Weight Moving Object Static Structures Center Of Mass Gravitational Field Equilibrium Situation Free-body Diagrams Symmetrical Objects Asymmetrical Object Irregularly Shaped Objects Uniform Gravitational Field Acceleration Due To Gravity Center Of Mass

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