Entropy production in collisionless systems. II. Arbitrary phase-space occupation numbers

Eric I. Barnes, Liliya L.R. Williams

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6 Scopus citations


We present an analysis of two thermodynamic techniques for determining equilibria of self-gravitating systems. One is the Lynden-Bell (LB) entropy maximization analysis that introduced violent relaxation. Since we do not use the Stirling approximation, which is invalid at small occupation numbers, our systems have finite mass, unlike LB's isothermal spheres. (Instead of Stirling, we utilize a very accurate smooth approximation for ln x!.) The second analysis extends entropy production extremization to self-gravitating systems, also without the use of the Stirling approximation. In addition to the LB statistical family characterized by the exclusion principle in phase space, and designed to treat collisionless systems, we also apply the two approaches to the Maxwell-Boltzmann (MB) families, which have no exclusion principle and hence represent collisional systems. We implicitly assume that all of the phase space is equally accessible. We derive entropy production expressions for both families and give the extremum conditions for entropy production. Surprisingly, our analysis indicates that extremizing entropy production rate results in systems that have maximum entropy, in both LB and MB statistics. In other words, both thermodynamic approaches lead to the same equilibrium structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012


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