Gravitation, Constant of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gravitation, Constant of

 

the proportionality constant G in the formula for Newton’s law of gravitation, F = G(mM/r2), where F is the force of attraction, M and m are the masses of the bodies attracting one another, and r is the distance between them. Other symbols used for the constant of gravitation are y and f (less frequently k2).

The numerical value of the constant of gravitation depends on the choice of the system of units of length, mass, and force. In the cgs system,

G = (6.673 ± 0.003) × 10−8 dyne • cm2 • g−2

or cm3 • g−1 sec−2; in the International System of Units,

G = (6.673 ± 0.003) × 10−11 newton • m2 • kg−2

or m3 • kg−1 • sec−2. The most accurate value of the constant of gravitation is obtained from laboratory measurements of the attractive force between two known masses by means of torsion balances.

The geocentric constant of gravitation is used to calculate the orbits of celestial bodies, such as artificial satellites, relative to the earth. It is the product of the constant of gravitation and the mass of the earth (including its atmosphere):

GE = (3.98603 ± 0.00003) × 1014m3 • sec−2

The heliocentric constant of gravitation is used to calculate the orbits of celestial bodies relative to the sun. It is the product of the constant of gravitation and the mass of the sun:

GSS = 1.32718 × 1020 m3 • sec−2

The values of GE and GS S are in accordance with the system of fundamental astronomical constants adopted in 1964 at the meeting of the International Astronomical Union.

IU. A. RIABOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.