Planar N-body central configurations with a homogeneous potential

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Central configurations give rise to self-similar solutions to the Newtonian N-body problem and play important roles in understanding its complicated dynamics. Even the simple question of whether or not there are finitely many planar central configurations for N positive masses remains unsolved in most cases. Considering central configurations as critical points of a function f, we explicitly compute the eigenvalues of the Hessian of f for all N for the point vortex potential for the regular polygon with equal masses. For homogeneous potentials including the Newtonian case, we compute bounds on the eigenvalues for the regular polygon with equal masses and give estimates on where bifurcations occur. These eigenvalue computations imply results on the Morse indices of f for the regular polygon. Explicit formulae for the eigenvalues of the Hessian are also given for all central configurations of the equal-mass four-body problem with a homogeneous potential. Classic results on collinear central configurations are also generalized to the homogeneous potential case. Numerical results, conjectures, and suggestions for the future work in the context of a homogeneous potential are given.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalCelestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

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