Interdisciplinary Seminar in Nonlinear Science

Title: Chaos and Stability in Planetary Systems
Speaker: Renu Malhotra
Speaker Info: University of Arizona
Brief Description:
Special Note: More current information may be available at Plan-it Purple

This talk will review recent advances in understanding the long term dynamics of our Solar system and of planetary configurations in general. The dynamics of our Solar system includes both chaotic and stable motions. The large planets exhibit remarkable stability of their orbital parameters on gigayear timescales, while also possessing all the formal characteristics of a chaotic dynamical system. The small bodies in our Solar system -- asteroids, comets, Kuiper Belt objects, and interplanetary dust particles -- contain a mix of chaotic and stable populations, a characteristic that makes the Solar system as a whole a continously evolving and dynamic system. Early in the history of the Solar system, gravitational interactions between the large planets and the remnant planetesimal disk caused the planets to evolve from a prior more compact and less stable orbital configuration to the current stable- but-weakly-chaotic dynamic state. It is unclear whether the `architecture' of our Solar system should be expected to be typical of planetary systems about Sun-like stars. Recently-discovered extra-solar planetary systems have diverse architectures, generally in great contrast with ours. The details of a planetary system configuration may be critical to the habitability of planets.
Date: Friday, May 17, 2002
Time: 2:00PM
Where: Tech M416
Contact Person: Fred Rasio
Contact email: rasio@northwestern.edu
Contact Phone: 847-467-3419
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