Counting relative equilibrium configurations of the full two-body problem

Richard Moeckel

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4 Scopus citations


Consider a system of two rigid, massive bodies interacting according to their mutual gravitational attraction. In a relative equilibrium motion, the bodies rotate rigidly and uniformly about a fixed axis in R3. This is possible only for special positions and orientations of the bodies. After fixing the angular momentum, these relative equilibrium configurations can be characterized as critical points of a smooth function on configuration space. The goal of this paper is to use Morse theory and Lusternik–Schnirelmann category theory to give lower bounds for the number of critical points when the angular momentum is sufficiently large. In addition, the exact number of critical points and their Morse indices are found in the limit as the angular momentum tends to infinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalCelestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.


  • Celestial Mechanics
  • Relative equilibria
  • Rigid bodies


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