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Departmental Colloquium

Hamilton-Jacobi Trajectories of Comets Kohoutek and ISON: A Novel Approach to Celestial Dynamics  
Guest Speaker
Prof. M. Howard Lee  
Guest Affiliation
UGA Physics And Astronomy  
Guest Affiliation Url  
Thursday, January 28, 2016 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm  
Physics Auditorium (Room 202)  
There is a class of comets which visit the solar system once and never return. These events are rare, occurring but once or twice a century. Kohoutek observed in 1973 and ISON in 2012 belong to this class. These remarkable comets are physically characterized by the eccentricity e very nearly 1. Thus their trajectories would seem of special interest to celestial dynamics. By Hamilton-Jacobi theory we have obtained a general solution for the trajectory in a two-body solar system. If e<1, the solution contains Kepler's three laws. If e>1, it yields an analog of Kepler's law 2, not previously known perhaps. The trajectories for the two special comets are obtained by taking the e-->1 limit on the general solution. By a "horizon singularity" one can determine how they disappear from the solar system. By this singularity one can identify this class of comets as they approach the solar system.