Publication Date

Summer 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Physics and Astronomy


Patrick Hamill


Binary Star System, Planetary Stability, Simulation, Three-body Problem

Subject Areas

Astronomy; Computational physics; Theoretical physics


The evolution of the solar system is an interesting dynamical problem in celestial mechanics. Computer simulations have shown that planetary bodies in multiple-body systems become unstable after a long time. In this thesis, through numerical simulations, we investigate the stability of the Earth in a binary star system. In the Sun, Earth, and Jupiter three-body system, we treat Jupiter as the second star (Star 2) and we simulate the Earth's orbit over many orbital periods. In our program, we generate the positions, velocities, accelerations, and other orbital elements of each body using Newton's laws of motion. We explore four types of simulations including when the system is run with the usual locations and masses, when the mass of Star 2 is changed at the position of Jupiter, when the stars have equal mass and the location of Star 2 is changed, and when the position and mass of Star 2 changed. We plot the position coordinates of the Earth and determine when the Earth exhibits unpredictable or erratic behaviors.