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An Interesting Problem

  1. Jan 31, 2007 #1
    Hi, I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice as to how to go about this. This seems like it might fit under more than one discussion category, but astrophysics seems like it might be the best place.

    I'm a programmer, and what I am trying to do is to write some software to generate a section of space (for example, 1000 ly^3) and populate it with star systems. This will include, at the very least, stars, planets, and their satellites.

    I want to make it as realistic as I can, but I know I'm going to have to make some sacrifices, and I know that knowledge in some areas is far from complete.

    For example, starting with a star of a particular surface temperature, luminosity and radius, I will want to generate a random solar system, but within realistic constraints for the characteristics of the star, and any other relevant factors. Obviously the masses of the planets will also affect the "layout" of the solar system.

    For another example, I know that the solar wind will strip off the atmosphere of a planet that is too close to its star, but not exactly how to calculate the strength and effects of the solar wind. Much less how to determine the presence of an atmosphere on a planet and its nature. I also would like to be able to calculate the surface temperature of a planet.

    But these are particular questions that have solutions with varying degrees of complexity according to what factors to take into account.

    I'm sure I'll have some concrete questions like those above, but for the time being, I guess I'm just asking how people would approach this problem strategically.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2007 #2
    Stars and planets? Isn't that like gnats and continents? The difference in scale might be too much for simple simulation algorithms. What is the purpose of this project?
  4. Feb 1, 2007 #3
    Thanks for your reply.

    I don't want to use the same algorithm for both the star and its planets. Basically, I just want to get a fairly realistic solar system *without* having to simulate the creation of one.

    For example, to create a star, I'm simply using a probability vector of the distribution of main sequence stars in real life among spectral classes, and basically determining the rest from that.

    So essentially, I need some way to calculate a probability vector or field for orbits, planet mass, planet type and composition, given a star with certain qualities. I don't want to simulate the creation of them at a dust-cloud level, just get a reasonable result.

    Of course, what is "reasonable" (thinking of hot jupiters) may be pretty broad.

    This purpose of the project is to provide random section of space to "explore". I might try to extend it into some sort of game in the future.
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