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Stellar Dynamics

Stellar dynamics research at Swinburne is currently concentrated on star clusters and the interplay between stellar, binary and dynamical evolution that we observe in simulations of these objects. Intrinsic to this is an understanding of the dynamics of two-, three- and four-body subsystems and, on a larger scale, the dynamical interaction between the star cluster and the gravitational potential of its host galaxy.

We use the Aarseth NBODY4 code to perform N-body simulations on special-purpose GRAPE-6 hardware and its sister code NBODY6 to do likewise on the Swinburne supercomputer. The focus is on producing realistic models that can be compared with the latest observations provided by HST and Chandra. In this way we hope to learn about the nature of stellar populations in star clusters and the dynamical history of star clusters. Recent results include a direct model of the old open cluster M67 which demonstrates the variety of formation paths for blue straggler stars in this cluster. We are also interested in the evolution of star cluster systems across a range of galactic potentials as well as understanding what happens to planetary systems in star clusters.
globular cluster
Cluster simulation
Credit: J. Hurley & D. Barnes, Swinburne

This research area involves collaborators at a variety of institutions world-wide, including the University of Cambridge, Monash University, Utrecht University and the American Museum of Natural History.

More information is available at the N-body page maintained by Dr Jarrod Hurley.


  • Dynamical Effects Dominate the Evolution of Cataclysmic Variables in Dense Star Clusters, Shara M.M., Hurley J.R. (2006), ApJ, 646, 464
  • A Complete N-body Model of the Old Open Cluster M67, Hurley J.R., Pols O.R., Aarseth S.J., Tout C.A. (2005), MNRAS, 363, 293
  • Metallicity Effects on Open Cluster Dynamics, Hurley J.R., Tout C.A., Aarseth S.J., Pols O.R. (2004), MNRAS, 355, 1207
  • White Dwarf Sequences in Dense Star Clusters, Hurley J.R., Shara M.M. (2003), ApJ, 589, 179
  • Core radius evolution of star clusters, Wilkinson M.I., Hurley J.R., Mackey A.D., Gilmore G.F., Tout C.A. (2003), MNRAS, 343, 1025
  • Star Clusters as Type Ia Supernova Factories, Shara M.M., Hurley J.R. (2002), ApJ, 571, 830
  • The Promiscuous Nature of Stars in Clusters, Hurley J.R., Shara M.M. (2002), ApJ, 570, 184
  • Free-Floating Planets in Stellar Clusters: Not So Surprising, Hurley J.R., Shara M.M. (2002), ApJ, 565, 1251
  • Direct N-body Modelling of Stellar Populations: Blue Stragglers in M67, Hurley J.R., Tout C.A., Aarseth S.J., Pols O.R. (2001), MNRAS, 323, 630