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Physics  1998 

Stellar Dynamics of Dense Stellar Systems

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Stellar dynamics is almost unreasonably well suited for an implementation in terms of special-purpose hardware. Unlike the case of molecular dynamics, stellar dynamics deals exclusively with a long-range force, gravity, which leads to a computational cost scaling as the square of the number of stars involved. While special tricks can lead to a reduction of this cost from $\sim N^2$ to $\sim N\log N$ in the case of very large particle numbers, such tricks are not suitable for all areas within stellar dynamics. When a stellar system is close to equilibrium, and has a very high density, it still pays to compute all interactions on a star by star basis, even for $N=10^5$. Any $cN\log N$ approach would either gloss over the subtle net effects of near-canceling interactions, driving the evolution of such a system, or would carry a prohibitively large coefficient $c$. This paper presents a brief introduction to the stellar dynamics of dense stellar systems, aimed at researchers using special purpose computers in other branches of physics.


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