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Scholarly Horizons: University of Minnesota, Morris Undergraduate Journal

Abstract

This paper was written as a final lab report for a computer modeling class. It uses dynamical simulations to investigate the behavior of a planet with the mass and velocity magnitude of the Earth placed in a low mass binary star system, which was loosely based on the Sirius binary. The simulations are completed using gravitational force properties along with the Verlet algorithm, then the results were observed through a modeling program, in which each set was set as an animation to determine behavior. Results came from 40 strategic starting points, which were chosen to cover a large spread of space around the binary while also limiting the total number of simulations needed to a manageable amount for the simulation method. Of these starting points, it was discovered that very few had any significant interaction with the binary stars, and only one of the initial locations allowed for the Earth-like planet to fall into a stable orbit for the span of (at least) 1000 years. It was also found planets placed close to the lower-mass star were more likely to survive for a long period of time.

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