ISIMA 2014: Gravitational Dynamics

CITA Toronto, June 30th - August 8th, 2014.

The 2014 ISIMA was dedicated to the study of "Gravitational Dynamics", and took place at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. ISIMA 2014 is indebted to CITA and to the Connaught fund, for hosting and funding the program.

Gravity controls the formation, evolution and fate of almost all celestial bodies, from small objects like asteroids, to planets and stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies. The study of gravitational dynamics has been revived in the past few decades thanks to advances in high-performance computing. High-precision algorithms are used to follow the trajectory of near-Earth asteroids, and predict the likelihood of collisions with our planet. We are also able simulate the evolution of the entire Solar System for billions of years, and investigate its past and future. We can study and visualize, through simulations, how a galaxy like the Milky Way assembles over time.

Beyond this already astounding progress, even more exciting times lie ahead. Our current views of the Universe are challenged by data from space missions and large ground-based telescopes. The PanSTARRs and LSST surveys will soon catalog the vast majority of sizeable solar system asteroids. The Kepler mission is discovering every year hundreds of extra-solar planetary systems. The GAIA mission is about to characterize the orbits of billions of stars within our galaxy. Unfortunately, this massive amount of data will only be useful if we have the computing power to interpret it. With standard tools and algorithms, this may be out of our reach; but the solution to problem is in sight thanks to the GPU (graphics processing units) computing revolution, which has increased computational power by orders of magnitude over standard computing.

ISIMA 2014 brought together students and faculty, theorists and observers, N-body specialists and analytical modelers, from the three following areas: Planetary Dynamics, Globular Cluster Dynamics and Galactic Dynamics, to work alongside for 6 weeks. This provided an ideal forum for the cross-pollination of ideas and techniques between these diverse fields which are usually cut-off from each other.

The main lecturers for the 1st week program were Doug Lin (Introduction to Gravitationally interacting systems), Scott Tremaine (Planetary Dynamics), Douglas Heggie (Cluster Dynamics) and David Merritt (Galactic Dynamics).


Scientific program:

  • Summary of the exit surveys

    Scientific Organising Committee

    • Pawel Artymowicz, Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto
    • Mark Gieles, Physics, University of Surrey
    • Doug Lin, Astronomy and Astrophysics, UC Santa Cruz
    • Norm Murray, Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto
    • Alice Quillen, Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester
    • Hanno Rein, Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto
    • Yanqin Wu, Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto


    Admistrative Organising Committee