Authors: Clifford M. Will
Date: 4 Dec 2013
Abstract: The increasing role of general relativity in the dynamics of stellar systems with central massive black holes and in the evolution of hierarchical triple systems inspires a close examination of how post-Newtonian effects are incorporated into N-body dynamics. The majority of approaches incorporate relativity by adding to the Newtonian N-body equations the standard two-body post-Newtonian terms for a given star around the black hole or for the close binary in a triple system. We argue that, for calculating the evolution of such systems over timescales comparable to the relativistic pericenter advance timescale, it is essential to include ‘cross terms’ in the equations of motion. These are post-Newtonian terms that represent a coupling between the potential of the central black hole and the potential due to other stars in the system. For hierarchical triple systems, these are couplings between the potential of the inner binary and that of the distant third body. Over pericenter precession timescales, the effects of such terms can actually be ‘boosted’ to amplitudes of Newtonian order. We write down the post-Newtonian N-body equations of motion including a central black hole in a truncated form that includes all the relevant cross terms, in a format ready to use for numerical implementation. We do the same for hierarchical triple systems, and illustrate explicitly the effects of cross terms on the orbit-averaged equations of evolution for the orbit elements of the inner binary for the special case where the third body is on a circular orbit. We also describe the inspiration for this investigation: the motion of a test body about a central body with a Newtonian quadrupole moment, including the relativistic pericenter advance, whose correct solution for the conserved total Newtonian energy requires including PN cross terms between the mass monopole and quadrupole potentials.
© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29
Tantum in modicis, quantum in maximis