Fr.: théorème du viriel
A general equation applicable to a gravitationally → bound system of equal mass objects (stars, galaxies, etc.), which is stable against → dynamical disruption. It states that in such a system the average → gravitational potential energy (Wvir) is twice the average → kinetic energy (Kvir) of the system: Wvir = -2Kvir. This general proposition, first derived by Rudolf Clausius (1822-1888), has important applications in a variety of fields ranging from statistical mechanics to astrophysics. See also → virialization, → virial equilibrium, → virialized.