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The Effect of Orbital Resonance on the Stability of a Planetary System

December 06, 2019


    Resonance is a phenomenon we experience in our daily lives. Pushing a friend in a swing set
at its natural frequency can rapidly increase the swing’s amplitude. Or observing metronomes on a
common platform synchronize over time. Likewise, Orbital resonance in the domain of planetary
motion happens when the orbital periods of any two celestial bodies have a simple integer ratio. The
objective of this research is to further explore the effects of orbital resonances on the stability of a
planetary system. In order to find out if this resonance period is favored in the planetary motion, an
artificial solar system is created as a simulation, where the periods, in this case, the positions of the
planets, are modified to move them in and out of orbital resonance.

    Their masses are also varied to make the phenomenon more visible. The initial masses of these planetary bodies are set up by creating a list of masses in the order of magnitude of the actual Earth's mass. The initial positions are determined by the distance from the Sun to the Earth as reference, and then creating other planet's position where their period would be in various integer ratios.

    Their resulting orbits are then examined both graphically and analytically. The simulation has been running, and some distinct patterns are emerging. It is expected that more simulations and their analyses will provide a better understanding of orbital resonance on the stability of a planetary system.