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Journal Articles Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Year : 2020

On the local and global properties of the gravitational spheres of influence


We revisit the concept of sphere of gravitational activity, to which we give both a geometrical and physical meaning. This study aims to refine this concept in a much broader context that could, for instance, be applied to exo-planetary problems (in a Galactic stellar disc-Star-Planets system) to define a first order "border" of a planetary system. The methods used in this paper rely on classical Celestial Mechanics and develop the equations of motion in the framework of the 3-body problem (e.g. Star-Planet-Satellite System). We start with the basic definition of planet's sphere of activity as the region of space in which it is feasible to assume a planet as the central body and the Sun as the perturbing body when computing perturbations of the satellite's motion. We then investigate the geometrical properties and physical meaning of the ratios of Solar accelerations (central and perturbing) and planetary accelerations (central and perturbing), and the boundaries they define. We clearly distinguish throughout the paper between the sphere of activity, the Chebotarev sphere (a particular case of the sphere of activity), Laplace sphere, and the Hill sphere. The last two are often wrongfully thought to be one and the same. Furthermore, taking a closer look and comparing the ratio of the star's accelerations (central/perturbing) to that of the planetary acceleration (central/perturbing) as a function of the planeto-centric distance, we have identified different dynamical regimes which are presented in the semi-analytical analysis.
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hal-02617073 , version 1 (25-05-2020)



Damya Souami, Jacky Cresson, Christophe Biernacki, Frédéric Pierret. On the local and global properties of the gravitational spheres of influence. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2020, 496 (4), pp.4287-429. ⟨10.1093/mnras/staa1520⟩. ⟨hal-02617073⟩
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