Simulation of Planetary Accretion Formation

Team: 47


Area of Science: Earth and Space Science

Abstract: Problem:
Given a set of initial accretion disk conditions, i.e. a sun and a nebula of leftover dust particles, what planets and objects will form? How long will it take and what are the distributions of different planet types?

With the recent discoveries of more and more extra-solar planets, what planets are likely to form and under what conditions becomes a more immediate question than ever; by knowing where to search and what to search for, astronomers can increase search efficiency and cut costs. An accurate computer simulation testing various initial conditions, both set and randomized, can be used to observe what conditions have the potential to form solar systems of certain compositions, namely those containing terrestrial planets like Earth.

The core program is a basic dynamics simulation based around the application of Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation, using a given array of particles with randomly generated masses, positions, and rotations about one or more central stars. Output will be in the form of a series of arrays recording the x, y, and z positions of each particle at each timestep. An animation will be generated based on these arrays.

Team Members:

  Andrei Klypin
  Jonathan Lee Annua
  William Downs
  Vincent Mestas

Sponsoring Teacher: Gregory Marez