Exact solutions of classical central-force problems
In the classical central-force problem of classical mechanics, some potential energy functions V(r) produce motions or orbits that can be expressed in terms of well-known functions, such as the trigonometric functions and elliptic functions. This article describes these functions and the corresponding solutions for the orbits.
The Binet equation for u(φ) can be solved numerically for nearly any central force F(1/u). However, only a handful of forces result in formulae for u in terms of known functions. The solution for φ can be expressed as an integral over u
A central-force problem is said to be "integrable" if this integration can be solved in terms of known functions.
If the force is a power law, i.e., if F(r) = α rn, then u can be expressed in terms of circular functions and/or elliptic functions if n equals 1, -2, -3 (circular functions) and -7, -5, -4, 0, 3, 5, -3/2, -5/2, -1/3, -5/3 and -7/3 (elliptic functions).
- Whittaker, pp. 80–95.