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Electricity and Magnetism

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Potential Energy of Different Systems of Three Charges

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Figure 1 depicts four different systems of three charges.

Figure 1. “Timothy Black. Created for Albert.io. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.”

All of them feature three charges whose magnitudes are $q$ and which are separated by a distance of $r$ from one another. The different configurations are labeled $A$, $B$, $C$, and $D$.

Which of the following statements best describe the relationship between the potential energy $U$ of the various configurations?

The potential energy of system $A$ is

the potential energy of system $D$.

The potential energy of system $B$ is

the potential energy of system $C$.

The potential energy of system $A$ is

the potential energy of system $C$.

The potential energy of system $B$ is

the potential energy of system $D$.