Potential energy

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Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object. An example is gravitational potential energy such as that of a roller coaster train at the peak of its lift hill.[1]

The formula for gravitational potential energy for two point masses is:


is Newton's gravitational constant
and are the masses of the two particles
is their separation

If one particle moves a radial distance (towards or away) from the other a distance and , then the change in potential can be approximated by

where is the gravitational field strength in the vicinity of the initial and final points.

See also


  1. Wile, Jay L. Exploring Creation With Chemistry. Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. 1998