The Restless Universe SUSSP 54
|von sco Scottish Universities Summer School in Physics 2000 Blai|
Synopsis This volume explores the gravitational N-body problem which dominates much of theoretical physics. It arises in problems ranging from the motion of artificial and natural satellites in the solar system, to the formation and evolution of large-scale structure in the universe. On intermediate scales, the dynamics of gravitational systems dominates the behaviour of stars in clusters and galaxies. The study of the gravitational N-body problem is a very old, and therefore very mature, subject. It was a starting point for the work of scientists of the stature of Newton, Lagrange, Poincare, Henon and many others. Since the early years of the 20th century, the techniques and scientific issues involved in this problem have diversified widely, even within the field of astrophysics alone. As a result, developments in these sub-disciplines have proceeded independently. Celestial mechanics was sometimes in danger of losing contact completely with the rest of astronomy. In stellar dynamics, theorists went through a period of rediscovering what had long been familiar in celestial mechanics. Only recently have there been signs of renewed cross-fertilization between these disciplines, as techniques for the study of nearly periodic motions of the planets have been taken up in stellar dynamics. At the same time, the discovery of extra-solar planetary systems has given the general astrophysical community a renewed appetite for techniques that were common in celestial mechanics. This volume brings together ideas, methods and applications from the different communities who work in the gravitational N-body problem, across diverse fields of astrophysics. The chapters and topics cover three broad themes: the dynamics of the solar system; the dynamics of galaxies and star clusters; and the large-scale structure of the universe.