The Inverse Problem for Collinear Central Configurations

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We consider the problem: given a collinear configuration of n bodies, find the masses which make it central. We prove that for n ≤ 6, each configuration determines a one-parameter family of masses (after normalization of the total mass). The parameter is the center of mass when n is even and the square of the angular velocity of the corresponding circular periodic orbit when n is odd. The result is expected to be true for any n.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.