Superparticle Method for Simulating Collisions

David Nesvorný, Andrew N. Youdin, Raphael Marschall, Derek C. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


For problems in astrophysics, planetary science, and beyond, numerical simulations are often limited to simulating fewer particles than in the real system. To model collisions, the simulated particles (a.k.a. superparticles) need to be inflated to represent a collectively large collisional cross section of real particles. Here we develop a superparticle-based method that replicates the kinetic energy loss during real-world collisions, implement it in an N-body code, and test it. The tests provide interesting insights into dynamics of self-gravitating collisional systems. They show how particle systems evolve over several freefall timescales to form central concentrations and equilibrated outer shells. The superparticle method can be extended to account for the accretional growth of objects during inelastic mergers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number63
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 20 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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