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Conjugate Points in the Gravitational n-Body Problem


In an effort to understand the nature of almost periodic orbits in the n-body problem (for all time t) we look first to the more basic question of the oscillatory nature of solutions of this problem (on a half-line, usually taken as R +). Intimately related to this is the notion of a conjugate point(due to A. Wintner) of a solution. Specifically, by rewriting the mass unrestricted general problem of n-bodies in a symmetric form we prove that in the gravitational Newtonian n-body problem with collisionless motions there exists arbitrarily large conjugate points in the case of arbitrary (positive) masses whenever the cube of the reciprocal of at least one of the mutual distances is not integrable at infinity. The implication of this result is that there are possibly many Wintner oscillatorysolutions in these cases (some of which may or may not be almost periodic). As a consequence, we obtain sufficient conditions for all continuable solutions (to infinity) to be either unbounded or to allow for near misses (at infinity). The results also apply to potentials other than Newtonian ones. Our techniques are drawn from results in systems oscillation theory and are applicable to more general situations.

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Correspondence to Angelo B. Mingarelli.

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Dedicated to the memory of Robert M. (Bob) Kauffman, formerly Professor of the University of Alabama in Birmingham

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Mingarelli, A.B., Mingarelli, C.M.F. Conjugate Points in the Gravitational n-Body Problem. Celestial Mech Dyn Astr 91, 391–401 (2005).

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  • almost periodic
  • n-body problem
  • bounded motions
  • collisionless
  • conjugate points