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What is energy?
The capability or the capacity to do some work is termed as Energy, in Physics. According to the law of conservation of energy, it cannot be created nor be destroyed but, can be transformed into some other form. There are many sources of energy like kinetic energy, sound energy, thermal or heat energy, gravitational energy, potential energy, and many others. Energy can also be classified as renewable and non-renewable energy.
What is potential energy?
In order to understand the gravitational potential energy, it is important to understand what potential energy is. Potential energy is a term that is used in physics and defined to as the energy that is being stored by an object due to the position of the object relative to other objects or the stress that is present within the object or the electrical charge that is stored in the object or for any other factor. The potential energy can be categorized into two forms which are, gravitational potential energy and the other is elastic potential energy.
What is gravitational potential energy?
The energy that is being stored in an object due to the virtue of the height or the vertical position that the object is located at, is commonly known as the gravitational energy. The energy that is being stored is a result of the gravitational force that the object experiences on it. For example, the gravitational potential energy for an enormously large ball that is used in the demolition machine is dependent on two factors, one is the mass of the ball and another is the height to which it is elevated. The mass of the object and the gravitational potential energy shares a direct relation. With increasing mass the gravitational potential energy also increases and thus, objects with higher masses have higher gravitational potential energy. The gravitational potential energy is also directly related to the height to which the object is elevated. With increasing height, the gravitational potential energy also increases. The expression of gravitational potential is:
PEgrav = mass * g * height
PEgrav = m * g * h
Where m represents the mass of the object, g denotes the acceleration of gravity or the gravitational field strength, which has a constant value of 9.8 N/kg, and lastly, the h represents the height to which the object is raised.
Gravitational potential energy can be explained in another way. The work that is done by lifting an object of mass m through a height h is W = F*d = m * g * h, where m is the mass of the object, W is the work done by lifting the object or the gravitational potential energy, F is the force needed to lift the object, d is the distance which is expressed as h or the height to which the object is lifted. So, in other words, the gravitational potential energy can also be defined as the work done to lift an object to a certain height.
Equation of gravitational potential energy
As discussed earlier, the gravitational potential energy is the energy that is being stored in an object by the virtue of its position in the gravitational field. The most common use of gravitational potential energy is for an object that is situated near the surface of the Earth and the gravitational acceleration is assumed to be constant, which is about 9.8 m/s2. The gravitational potential energy can be assumed to be zero at some point of time, and the potential energy at some height h, which will be situated above the point, will be equal to the work that will be done in order to lift the object to the height h, and there is no change in the kinetic energy. The force that is required in order to lift the object will be equal to the weight of the object. So, then the first form in which gravitational potential energy can be expressed is equaled to the weight times the height to which the object is lifted and the equal for that is:
PEgravitational = weight * height = m * g * h
Another form of the gravitational potential energy is:
U = -GMm/r
where the G is the gravitational constant, M is the mass of the attracting body, m represents the mass of the object, and the r defined the distance between their centers.
This equation is a more general form of the gravitational potential energy and arises from the law of gravitation. In this form, the work is done in order to bring a mass to a given point in the space and this is done against gravity. This form of expressing the gravitational potential energy is most useful for the calculation of the escape velocity from the gravity of the Earth.
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