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Title: ON THE MINIMAL ACCURACY REQUIRED FOR SIMULATING SELF-GRAVITATING SYSTEMS BY MEANS OF DIRECT N-BODY METHODS

The conservation of energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum are important drivers of our physical understanding of the evolution of the universe. These quantities are also conserved in Newton's laws of motion under gravity. Numerical integration of the associated equations of motion is extremely challenging, in particular due to the steady growth of numerical errors (by round-off and discrete time-stepping and the exponential divergence between two nearby solutions. As a result, numerical solutions to the general N-body problem are intrinsically questionable. Using brute force integrations to arbitrary numerical precision we demonstrate empirically that ensembles of different realizations of resonant three-body interactions produce statistically indistinguishable results. Although individual solutions using common integration methods are notoriously unreliable, we conjecture that an ensemble of approximate three-body solutions accurately represents an ensemble of true solutions, so long as the energy during integration is conserved to better than 1/10. We therefore provide an independent confirmation that previous work on self-gravitating systems can actually be trusted, irrespective of the intrinsically chaotic nature of the N-body problem.
Authors:
;  [1]
  1. Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9513, 2300-RA Leiden (Netherlands)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365919
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 785; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCURACY; ANGULAR MOMENTUM; APPROXIMATIONS; CHAOS THEORY; EQUATIONS OF MOTION; GALACTIC EVOLUTION; GRAVITATION; LINEAR MOMENTUM; NUMERICAL SOLUTION; PLANETS; SATELLITES; STARS; THREE-BODY PROBLEM; UNIVERSE