Dynamics of multibody systems in planar motion in a central gravitational field

Amit K. Sanyal, Anthony Bloch, N. Harris Mcclamroch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Multibody systems in planar motion are modelled as two or more rigid components that are connected and can move relative to each other. The dynamics of such multibody systems in planar motion in a central gravitational force field is analysed. The equations of motion of the system include the equations for the orbital motion of the bodies, the orientation (attitude) of the assembly, and the relative orientation (shape) of the bodies with respect to each other. Dynamic coupling between these degrees of freedom gives rise to complex dynamical systems that are usually not integrable. Relative equilibria, corresponding to circular orbits of the multibody system, are obtained. The free dynamics has a symmetry due to a cyclic coordinate. Routh reduction is carried out to eliminate this coordinate and obtain the reduced dynamics. The stability of the relative equilibria is analysed using the Routh stability criterion when it is applicable; an expansion of the Hamiltonian in normal form is used otherwise. We apply the general results to a multibody system consisting of two hinged planar bodies, each modelled as a rigid massless link with a point mass at one end with their other ends connected by a hinge joint. We obtain the relative equilibria of this model, and carry out a stability analysis for the relative equilibria. Numerical simulations using a symplectic integrator are carried out fer perturbations to these relative equilibria, to confirm their stability properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-343
Number of pages41
JournalDynamical Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications


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