Gravitational Field Lines (OCR A Level Physics)

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Gravitational Field Lines

  • The direction of a gravitational field is represented by gravitational field lines
    • The direction shows the direction of force
    • Equivalently, they show the direction of acceleration of a test mass in the field

  • The gravitational field lines around a point mass are radially inwards
  • The gravitational field lines of a uniform field, where the field strength is the same at all points, is represented by equally spaced parallel lines
    • For example, the fields lines on the Earth’s surface

Gravitational field lines, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Gravitational field lines for a point mass and a uniform gravitational field

  • Radial fields are considered non-uniform fields
    • The gravitational field strength g is different depending on how far you are from the centre

  • Parallel field lines on the Earth’s surface are considered a uniform field
    • The gravitational field strength g is the same throughout

Exam Tip

You should be able to link gravitational field lines with vectors: the density of gravitational field lines show the magnitude of the field (i.e., the closer they are, the stronger the field), and they also indicate the field's direction

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Katie M

Author: Katie M

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