Discover the new solutions to the three-body problem!
The infamously difficult three-body problem is a test of the complexity of the natural world and a puzzle in physics and mathematics.
Just one or two lines of mathematical equations can adequately represent the orbits of two objects, much like a single planet around a star.
The math becomes considerably more challenging when a third body is added.
Calculating an orbit where all three items get along is a difficult task because each object affects the others with its gravity.
Today, a group of mathematicians from around the world claim to have discovered 12,000 new solutions to the third-body problem, which is a significant increase above the hundreds of previously known possibilities.
Their research was submitted to the arXiv database as a preprint, therefore peer review has not yet taken place.
Isaac Newton penned his fundamental principles of motion over three centuries ago, and ever since then, mathematicians have been trying to find a solution to the three-body problem.
There are numerous orbits for three orbiting objects that can function within the bounds of physics; there is no one correct orbit.
In contrast to Earth’s straightforward orbit around the sun, the three-body problem’s orbits can resemble twisted pretzels and scribbles.
The three hypothetical objects start at a standstill and, when released, are dragged into various spirals toward one another by gravity. The 12,000 recently discovered ones for the three-body problem are no exception.
Ivan Hristov, a mathematician at Sofia University in Bulgaria and the study’s principal author, told New Scientist that the orbits had an exceptionally lovely spatial and temporal structure.
These orbits were discovered by Hristov and colleagues using a supercomputer, and he is certain that five times as many might be discovered with even better technology.
The universe has several star systems with numerous planets or even multiple stars orbiting one another, making three-body systems fairly frequent.
Theoretically, these new solutions could be of great help to scientists who are seeking to understand the universe. However, they can only be helpful if the orbital patterns can recur throughout time without disintegrating and launching one of the component worlds into space.