Celestial Mechanics

Celestial mechanics is a branch of mathematics and astronomy that deals with the motions of celestial objects. The field applies principles of physics, gravitation, historically classical mechanics, to astronomical objects such as stars and planets to produce ephemeris data. Orbital mechanics (astrodynamics) is a subfield which focuses on the orbits of artificial satellites. Lunar theory is another subfield focusing on the orbit of the Moon.

For our latest developments/activities in this area, please see the listing at the end of this article.

Modern analytic celestial mechanics started over 300 years ago with Isaac Newton's Principia of 1687. The name "celestial mechanics" is more recent than that. Newton wrote that the field should be called "rational mechanics." The term "dynamics" came in a little later with Gottfried Leibniz, and over a century after Newton, Pierre-Simon Laplace introduced the term "celestial mechanics." Prior to Kepler there was little connection between exact, quantitative prediction of planetary positions, using geometrical or arithmetical techniques, and contemporary discussions of the physical causes of the planets' motion.

Solar system dynamics

The gravity force acting over eons has provided the solar system with an intricate dynamical structure, much of it revealed by recent space missions. Mathematical tools and physical models are needed for a complete understanding of the subject.

This is a multi-disciplinary subject that combines expertises from Geophysics, Dynamical Systems, and Numerical Simulations. We study the geophysical effects that modify the spin and the orbits of planets and satellites, in particular tidal effects and core-mantle friction.

See here a movie made by the NASA Science "Understanding orbits and Kepler's laws", for a brief historical review on the dynamics of the solar system.


Latest Celestial Mechanics Publications

Dynamical ejections of stars due to an accelerating gas filament, Tjarda C. N. Boekholt, Amelia M. Stutz, Michael Fellhauer, Dominik R. G. Schleicher, Diego R. Matus Carrillo, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2017), 471, 3590-3598e-Print: arXiv:1704.00720 [astro-ph].

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Lidov-Kozai stability regions in the α Centauri system, C. A. Giuppone, A. C. M. Correia, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2017), 605, A124e-Print: arXiv:1707.03026 [astro-ph].

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Spin dynamics of close-in planets exhibiting large transit timing variations, J.-B. Delisle, A. C. M. Correia, A. Leleu, P. Robutel, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2017), 605, A37e-Print: arXiv:1705.04460 [astro-ph].

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The rotation of planets hosting atmospheric tides: from Venus to habitable super-Earths, P. Auclair-Desrotour, J. Laskar, S. Mathis, A. C. M. Correia, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2017), 603, A108e-Print: arXiv:1611.05678 [astro-ph].

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Detection of co-orbital planets by combining transit and radial-velocity measurements, A. Leleu, P. Robutel, A. C. M. Correia, J. Lillo-Box, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2017), 599, L7e-Print: arXiv:1702.08775 [astro-ph]

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Latest Celestial Mechanics News & Events

Scientists discuss black holes in Aveiro

The X Black Holes workshop took place at Aveiro University on 18-19 December 2017. It gathered almost 100 scientists discussing black holes from many different perspectives. Besides 63 oral communications, the workshop also included the fourth General Assembley of the Portuguese Relativity and Gravitation Society (SPRG) and a special session celebrating the 60th anniversary of Prof. J. S. Lemos.

Chaotic N-body Dynamics

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Speaker
Tjarda Boekholt (Aveiro U.)
Event date
Venue
GAP room
Event type

AbstractAs a new post-doc of the Physics department, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself scientifically. I will discuss my work on "applied dynamics", in which I use the AMUSE framework to model dense stellar systems.

From Planet-X to Planet Nine

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Speaker
Nuno Peixinho (Coimbra U.)
Event date
Venue
GAP room
Event type

Abstract: At the end of the 19th century the existence os a planet beyond Neptune was in debate. In 1930, Pluto was discovered, but too far from the prediction. In 1992 we found out that Pluto is actually a member of a huge belt of icy bodies orbiting beyond Neptune.