Statistical mechanics of violent relaxation

David N. Spergel, Lars Hernquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

We propose a functional that is extremized through violent relaxation. It is based on the Ansatz that the wave-particle scattering during violent dynamical processes can be approximated as a sequence of discrete scattering events that occur near a particle's perigalacticon. This functional has an extremum whose structure closely resembles that of spheroidal stellar systems such as elliptical galaxies. The results described here, therefore, provide a simple framework for understanding the physical nature of violent relaxation and support the view that galaxies are structured in accord with fundamental statistical principles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L75-L78
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume397
Issue number2 PART 2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: interactions
  • Gravitation

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