can gravitational potential energy be negative

Gravitational potential - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


** Gravitational potential **

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Plot of a two-dimensional slice of the gravitational potential in and
around a uniform spherical body. The inflection points of the cross-section
are at the surface of the body.

In classical mechanics, the *gravitational potential* at a location is
equal to the work (energy transferred) per unit mass that would be done by
the force of gravity if an object were moved from its location in space to
a fixed reference location. It is analogous to the electric potential with
mass playing the role of charge. The reference location, where the
potential is zero, is by convention infinitely far away from any mass,
resulting in a negative potential at any finite distance.

In mathematics the gravitational potential is also known as the Newtonian
potential and is fundamental in the study of potential theory.


· 1 Potential energy
· 2 Mathematical form
· 3 Spherical symmetry
· 4 General relativity
· 5 Multipole expansion
· 6 Numerical values
· 7 See also
· 8 Notes
· 9 References

*Potential energy[edit]*

The gravitational potential (/V/) is the gravitational potential energy
(/U/) per unit mass:


where /m/ is the mass of the object. Potential energy is equal (in
magnitude, but negative) to the work done by the gravitational field moving
a body to its given position in space from infinity. If the body has a mass
of 1 unit, then the potential energy to be assigned to that body is equal
to the gravitational potential. So the potential can be interpreted as the
negative of the work done by the gravitational field moving a unit mass in
from infinity.

In some situations, the equations can be simplified by assuming a


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