From star-disc encounters to numerical solutions for a subset of the restricted three-body problem
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
Received: 10 March 2015
Accepted: 21 November 2016
Various astrophysical processes exist, where the fly-by of a massive object affects matter that is initially supported against gravity by rotation. Examples are perturbations of galaxies, protoplanetary discs, or planetary systems. We approximate such events as a subset of the restricted three-body problem by considering only perturbations of non-interacting low-mass objects that are initially on circular Keplerian orbits. In this paper, we present a new parametrisation of the initial conditions of this problem. Under certain conditions, the initial positions of the low-mass objects can be specified as being largely independent of the initial position of the perturber. In addition, exploiting the known scalings of the problem reduces the parameter space of initial conditions for one specific perturbation to two dimensions. To this two-dimensional initial condition space, we have related the final properties of the perturbed trajectories of the low-mass objects from our numerical simulations. In this way, maps showing the effect of the perturbation on the low-mass objects were created, which provide a new view on the perturbation process. Comparing the maps for different mass-ratios reveals that the perturbations by low- and high-mass perturbers are dominated by different physical processes. The equal-mass case is a complicated mixture of the other two cases. Since the final properties of trajectories with similar initial conditions are also usually similar, the results of the limited number of integrated trajectories can be generalised to the full presented parameter space by interpolation. Since our results are also unique within the accuracy strived for, they constitute general numerical solutions for this subset of the restricted three-body problem. As such, they can be used to predict the evolution of real physical problems by simple transformations, such as scaling, without further simulations. Possible applications are the perturbation of protoplanetary discs or planetary systems by the fly-by of another star. Here, the maps enable us, for example, to quantify the portion of unbound material for any periastron distance without the need for further simulations.
Key words: methods: numerical / protoplanetary disks / gravitation / planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability / scattering
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