Basic Planetary Motion
Issue: 4.5 (May/June 2006)
Author: JC Cruz
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 19,595
Starting Page Number: 21
RBD Number: 4509
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Excerpt of article text...
In my previous article, I covered the basic physics behind harmonic motion. I also introduced a new ODE algorithm, known as the Runge-Kutta Fourth Order (RK4), to replace the simple Euler's Method. I have shown the basic mathematics behind this new algorithm as well as some pertinent issues. I have also demonstrated how to use RK4 to simulate a prime example of harmonic motion, the simple pendulum.
Today, I will be discussing the basic physics behind planetary motion. I will cover some of the issues involved when simulating a planetary system. Later on, I will demonstrate how to use a vectorial version of RK4 to simulate a three-body system.
So pay attention, bright readers. This is going to be an interesting ride.
Astronomical Units of Measure
One notable aspect about planetary motion is that all data being processed are large in orders of magnitude. Masses are often in the order of at least a billion kilograms. The same is also true for other quantities such as velocities and positions.
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