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relaxation




The process of gravitational interaction in a cluster of stars or of galaxies, whereby a random distribution of motions (an equipartition of energy) is eventually established. The system is said to relax to a state of thermal equilibrium in a period known as the relaxation time. For a cluster of N stars this is about 0.1N times the time it takes a typical star to cross the cluster.


Related category

   • STELLAR ASTROPHYSICS