1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Three Bodies, Problem of

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THREE BODIES, PROBLEM OF, the problem of determining the motion of three bodies moving under no influence but that of their mutual gravitation. No general solution of this problem is possible. As practically attacked it consists in the problem of determining the perturbations or disturbances in the motion of one of the bodies around the principal or central body, produced by the attraction of the third. Examples are the motion of the moon around the earth as disturbed by the action of the sun, and of one planet around the sun as disturbed by the action of another planet.