N-body dynamics in near-Keplerian potentials

29 May - 1 June 2007

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Dynamics in near-Keplerian potentials plays central role in planetary science and in the physics of galactic nuclei. However, the development of both disciplines has been somewhat disjoint. Traditional celestial mechanics has focused on low-eccentricity, low inclination orbits, like those of the planets in the solar system, and most of its tools are based on the perturbation expansions in eccentricity and inclination. By contrast, in galactic nuclei stars typically orbit supermassive black holes on highly eccentric, inclined orbits, and thus their dynamics has been studied using N-body simulations or Fokker-Plank formalism.

However, astronomical observations over the past decade strongly suggest that theoretical techniques developed in both fields could be mutually beneficial. Firstly, extra-solar planets have been discovered, and many of them have been found to move on highly eccentric, inclined orbits. Secondly, it has been discovered that young stellar discs, which look like scaled up planetary discs, are orbiting supermassive black holes in the centers of the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies.

These discoveries make a compelling case for planetary and galactic dynamicists to exchange ideas. Such exchanges have already been useful in the past, but still have a significant future potential. The workshop will thus bring together researchers working on planetary and galactic dynamics, and address the topics of common interest.


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