3 years ago

Time-symmetric integration in astrophysics.

Edmund Bertschinger, David M. Hernandez

Calculating the long term solution of ordinary differential equations, such as those of the $N$-body problem, is central to understanding a wide range of dynamics in astrophysics, from galaxy formation to planetary chaos. Because generally no analytic solution exists to these equations, researchers rely on numerical methods which are prone to various errors. In an effort to mitigate these errors, powerful symplectic integrators have been employed. But symplectic integrators can be severely limited because they are not compatible with adaptive stepping and thus they have difficulty accommodating changing time and length scales. A promising alternative is time-reversible integration, which can handle adaptive time stepping, but the errors due to time-reversible integration in astrophysics are less understood. The goal of this work is to study analytically and numerically the errors caused by time-reversible integration, with and without adaptive stepping. We derive the modified differential equations of these integrators to perform the error analysis. As an example, we consider the trapezoidal rule, a reversible non-symplectic integrator, and show it gives secular energy error increase for a pendulum problem and for a H\'{e}non---Heiles orbit. We conclude that using reversible integration does not guarantee good energy conservation and that, when possible, use of symplectic integrators is favored. We also show that time-symmetry and time-reversibility are properties that are distinct for an integrator.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1708.07266

DOI: arXiv:1708.07266v2

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