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Does a planets orbit ever go chaotic?

  1. Oct 23, 2007 #1
    Okay, Im doing grade 12 physics in australia and I was wondering about systems of planets interacting with each others gravity and whether this could cause chaos with orbits.

    If all the other planets in out solar system effect one another, does there ever end up a point where the clockwork orbits will go chaotic? I dont know a lot about chaos, but there must become a point with Newtons gravitational laws and Keplars laws where it all goes pear-shaped and one of the planets orbits gets all messed up.

    Could you predict when this would happen?

    Youll have to excuse my punctuation as Im using a mac and the damn apostrophe wont work... grrr
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2007 #2


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    The planets orbits are chaotic (for some definitions of chaos)
    Long term stability is probably due to resonanance where planets ahe settled into orbits where they each nudge each other into stability.
    This article describes it rather better than I have!

  4. Oct 24, 2007 #3


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    If you want to see the dynamic complexity of just a (restricted) 3-body problem look here: http://cmvl.cs.concordia.ca/publications/r3b-06.ps.gz (at least I think that's the one with nice pics...)

    Can the orbits go chaotic tho?

    First thought would be that it would require an unphysically huge perturbation -- at least in the short time.
  5. Oct 25, 2007 #4
  6. Oct 25, 2007 #5


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    That applet's very nice :smile:
  7. Nov 2, 2007 #6
    Cool thanks I'll check it out
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