EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 376, Number 3, September IV 2001
Page(s) 1135 - 1146
Section Computational methods
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20010996

A&A 376, 1135-1146 (2001)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20010996

Relaxation times calculated from angular deflections

E. Athanassoula, Ch. L. Vozikis and J. C. Lambert

Observatoire de Marseille, 2 place Le Verrier, 13248 Marseille Cedex 4, France

(Received 22 February 2001 / Accepted 5 July 2001 )

In this paper we measure the two-body relaxation time from the angular deflection of test particles launched in a rigid configuration of field particles. We find that centrally concentrated configurations have relaxation times that can be shorter than those of the corresponding homogeneous distributions by an order of magnitude or more. For homogeneous distributions we confirm that the relaxation time is proportional to the number of particles. On the other hand centrally concentrated configurations have a much shallower dependence, particularly for small values of the softening. The relaxation time increases with the inter-particle velocities and with softening. The latter dependence is not very strong, of the order of a factor of two when the softening is increased by an order of magnitude. Finally we show that relaxation times are the same on GRAPE-3 and GRAPE-4, dedicated computer boards with limited and high precision respectively.

Key words: celestial mechanics -- stellar dynamics -- galaxies: kinematics and dynamics -- methods: N-body simulations

Offprint request: E. Athanassoula, lia@paxi.cnrs-mrs.fr

© ESO 2001