Circular, elliptic and oval billiards in a gravitational field

Diogo Ricardo da Costa*, Carl P. Dettmann, Edson D. Leonel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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We consider classical dynamical properties of a particle in a constant gravitational force and making specular reflections with circular, elliptic or oval boundaries. The model and collision map are described and a detailed study of the energy regimes is made. The linear stability of fixed points is studied, yielding exact analytical expressions for parameter values at which a period-doubling bifurcation occurs. The dynamics is apparently ergodic at certain energies in all three models, in contrast to the regularity of the circular and elliptic billiard dynamics in the field-free case. This finding is confirmed using a sensitive test involving Lyapunov weighted dynamics. In the last part of the paper a time dependence is introduced in the billiard boundary, where it is shown that for the circular billiard the average velocity saturates for zero gravitational force but in the presence of gravitational it increases with a very slow growth rate, which may be explained using Arnold diffusion. For the oval billiard, where chaos is present in the static case, the particle has an unlimited velocity growth with an exponent of approximately 1/6.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-746
Number of pages16
JournalCommunications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Billiard
  • Circular
  • Elliptic
  • Gravitational field
  • Oval

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