We study the isosceles three body problem with fixed symmetry line for arbitrary masses, as a subsystem of the N-body problem. Our goal is to construct minimizing noncollision periodic orbits using a symmetric variational method with a finite order symmetry group. The solution of this variational problem gives existence of noncollision periodic orbits which realize certain symbolic sequences of rotations and oscillations in the isosceles three body problem for any choice of the mass ratio.
The Maslov index for these periodic orbits is used to prove the main result, Theorem 4.1, which states that the minimizing curves in the three dimensional reduced energy momentum surface can be extended to periodic curves which are generically hyperbolic. This reminds one of a theorem of Poincaré , concerning minimizing periodic geodesics on orientable 2D surfaces. The results in this paper are novel in two directions: in addition to the higher dimensional setting, the minimization in the current problem is over a symmetry class, rather than a loop space.