What is center of mass?

  • Consider a body consisting of large number of particles whose mass is equal to the total mass of all the particles. When such a body undergoes a translational motion the displacement is produced in each and every particle of the body with respect to their original position.
  • If this body is executing motion under the effect of some external forces acting on it then it has been found that there is a point in the system , where if whole mass of the system is supposed to be concentrated and the nature the motion executed by the system remains unaltered when force acting on the system is directly applied to this point. Such a point of the system is called centre of mass of the system.
  • Hence for any system Centre of mass is the point where whole mass of the system can be supposed to be concentrated and motion of the system can be defined in terms of the centre of mass.
  • Consider a stationary frame of refrance where a body of mass M is situated. This body is made up of n number of particles. Let mi be the mass and ri be the pisition vector of i'th particle of the body.
  • Let C be any point in the body whose position vector with respect to origin O of the frame of refrance is Rc and position vector of point C w.r.t. i'th particle is rci as shown below in the figure.

  • From triangle OCP
    ri=Rc+rci                               (1)
    multiplying both sides of equation 1 bt mi we get
    taking summation of above equation for n particles we get

    If for a body

    then point C is known as the centre of mass of the body.
  • Hence a point in a body w.r.t. which the sum of the product of mass of the particle and their position vector is equal to zero is equal to zero is known as centre of mass of the body.

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