REBOUNDx

REBOUNDx: A Library for Adding Conservative and Dissipative Forces to Otherwise Symplectic N-body Integrations. Symplectic methods, in particular the Wisdom-Holman map, have revolutionized our ability to model the long-term, conservative dynamics of planetary systems. However, many astrophysically important effects are dissipative. The consequences of incorporating such forces into otherwise symplectic schemes is not always clear. We show that moving to a general framework of non-commutative operators (dissipative or not) clarifies many of these questions, and that several important properties of symplectic schemes carry over to the general case. In particular, we show that explicit splitting schemes generically exploit symmetries in the applied external forces which often strongly suppress integration errors. Furthermore, we demonstrate that so-called `symplectic correctors’ (which reduce energy errors by orders of magnitude at fixed computational cost) apply equally well to weakly dissipative systems and can thus be more generally thought of as `weak splitting correctors.’ Finally, we show that previously advocated approaches of incorporating additional forces into symplectic methods work well for dissipative forces, but give qualitatively wrong answers for conservative but velocity-dependent forces like post-Newtonian corrections. We release REBOUNDx, an open-source C library for incorporating additional effects into REBOUND N-body integrations, together with a convenient Python wrapper. All effects are machine-independent and we provide a binary format that interfaces with the SimulationArchive class in REBOUND to enable the sharing and reproducibility of results. Users can add effects from a list of pre-implemented astrophysical forces, or contribute new ones.

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