Drake Hayes is going to be a senior at Crawfordsville High School in Crawfordsville, Indiana, this fall. Drake is involved not only in his school, but also in his community; he has served as the president of his class for two years and a voice on the Montgomery County Youth Council for one year. Drake, having developed a love for robots at an early age, has been involved in FIRST robotics since he was a sixth grader as well. Besides mathematics, Drake is interested in science, technology, and philosophy. In his spare time, Drake loves reading, spending time with friends and family, hiking, canoeing, and bowling. He also loves running, participating in both track and cross country at his school. He plans to go to college and study mathematics and computer science, and he hopes to someday earn his PhD and become a professor.
Project: Simulating Binary Star Systems
The goal of this project is to create a simulation of a binary star system. I will create an interactive interface that displays a 3D model of exoplanets orbiting a variable number of bodies. In the interface, the user will be able to modify not only the number of bodies present in the simulation, but they will be able to alter their masses and velocities as well. The user will be able to change these variables and observe the effects that such changes have on the motions of the bodies present in the simulation. He or she will then be able to develop a better understanding of how celestial bodies interact with each other in a solar system.
Summary of Results
- A simulation depicting the different types of orbitals that celestial bodies can fall into
- A simulation depicting a binary star system known as the Alpha Centauri system
- A complete planetary system populated with a binary star and five planets
- Graphics demonstrating how astronomers use photometry to detect binary star systems and exoplanets
Allotted more time, I would design a function that would allow the user to alter the masses, radii, positions, velocities and number of bodies present in the interface in real time. I attempted to apply Manipulate to NBodySimulation, but since NBodySimulation produces cooked data, such an approach is not applicable. I also would create a visualization describing what happens when a star expands beyond its Roche lobe. Such a visualization would help illustrate the chaotic nature of these binary star systems. I would also produce a visualization depicting what one would see standing on the surface of an exoplanet looking up.