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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Some aspects of three and four-body dynamics Barkham, Peter George Douglas


Two fundamental problems of celestial mechanics are considered: the stellar or planetary three-body problem and a related form of the restricted four-body problem. Although a number of constraints are imposed, no assumptions are made which could invalidate the final solution. A consistent and rational approach to the analysis of four-body systems has not previously been developed, and an attempt is made here to describe problem evolution in a systematic manner. In the particular three-body problem under consideration two masses, forming a close binary system, orbit a comparatively distant mass. A new literal, periodic solution of this problem is found in terms of a small parameter e, which is related to the distance separating the binary system and the remaining mass, using the two variable expansion procedure. The solution is accurate within a constant error O(e¹¹) and uniformly valid as e tends to zero for time intervals 0(e¹⁴). Two specific examples are chosen to verify the literal solution, one of which relates to the sun-earth-moon configuration of the solar system. The second example applies to a problem of stellar motion where the three masses are in the ratio 20 : 1 : 1. In both cases a comparison of the analytical solution with an equivalent numerically-generated orbit shows .close agreement, with an error below 5 percent for the sun-earth-moon configuration and less than 3 percent for the stellar system. The four-body problem is derived from the three-body case by introducing a particle of negligible mass into the close binary system. Unique uniformly valid solutions are found for motion near both equilateral triangle points of the binary system in terms of the small parameter e, where the primaries move in accordance with the uniformly-valid three-body solution. Accuracy, in this case, is Q maintained within a constant error 0(e⁸), and the solutions are uniformly valid as e tends to zero for time intervals 0(e¹¹). Orbital position errors near L₄ and L₅ of the earth-moon system are found to be less than 5 percent when numerically-generated periodic solutions are used as a standard of comparison. The approach described here should, in general, be useful in the analysis of non-integrable dynamic systems, particularly when it is feasible to decompose the problem into a number of subsidiary cases.

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