Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Roger Yu L&S Math & Physical Sciences

Global Trends in Secular Chaos

Secular chaos has been identified as a factor destabilizing celestial bodies such as Mercury, and the creation of hot Jupiters in extrasolar systems. “Secular” refers to the orbit-averaged motion of a planet – we study the motions of bodies not as point masses, but as interactions between massive elliptical wires. Secular theory dates back to the 18th century, but only in the modern era has it been realized that it can lead to chaos.

This project aims to investigate secular chaos within an N-body planetary system. While 2-planet systems have been understood, the general case of N > 3 has not been explored. We seek to identify the global trends of secular chaos: whether a system becomes more or less chaotic as N increases while the individual planet mass decreases. Is a system of N = 10 Earths more or less chaotic than a system of 2 Jupiters? Understanding the trends of secular chaos is vital for mapping out the dynamical behaviors of the diverse architectures of extrasolar systems.

Message To Sponsor

I would like to thank my donor for funding my summer project! This is very important to me and it will further motivate me to work harder in the science community. I will try to do my best to make progress in my research and give back to the community!
Profile image of Roger Yu
Major: Physics, Computer Science
Mentor: Eugene Chiang
Sponsor: Leadership
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