We consider the N-body problem of celestial mechanics in spaces of nonzero constant curvature. Using the concept of effective potential, we define the moment of inertia for systems moving on spheres and hyperbolic spheres and show that we can recover the classical definition in the Euclidean case. After proving some criteria for the existence of relative equilibria, we find a natural way to define the concept of central configuration in curved spaces using the moment of inertia and show that our definition is formally similar to the one that governs the classical problem. We prove that, for any given point masses on spheres and hyperbolic spheres, central configurations always exist. We end with results concerning the number of central configurations that lie on the same geodesic, thus extending the celebrated theorem of Moulton to hyperbolic spheres and pointing out that it has no straightforward generalization to spheres, where the count gets complicated even for two bodies.
Journal of Nonlinear Science – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 5, 2018
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