Purely self-gravitating systems of point particles have been extensively studied in astrophysics and cosmology, mainly through numerical simulations, but understanding of their dynamics still remains extremely limited. We describe here results of a detailed study of a simple class of cold quasi-uniform initial conditions, for both finite open systems and infinite systems. These examples illustrate well the qualitative features of the quite different dynamics observed in each case, and also clarify the relation between them. In the finite case our study highlights the potential importance of energy and mass ejection prior to virialization, a phenomenon which has been previously overlooked. We discuss for both cases the validity of a mean-field Vlasov-Poisson description of the dynamics observed, and specifically the question of how particle number should be extrapolated to test for it.
Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment
- Pub Date:
- April 2009
- Condensed Matter - Statistical Mechanics
- 32 pages, 14 figures. Proceedings (refereed) based on invited talk by MJ at the "Sigma Phi" conference in Statistical Physics, Crete, 2008