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Experimental study on the kinetics of granular gases under microgravity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 December 2009

Department of Physics, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Department of Applied Physics, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, 2-24-16 Naka-cho, Koganei-shi, Tokyo 184-8588, Japan
Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
Department of Physics, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Email address for correspondence:


The kinetics of granular gases, including both freely cooling and steadily driven systems, is studied experimentally in quasi-two-dimensional cells. Under microgravity conditions achieved inside an aircraft flying parabolic trajectories, the frictional force is reduced. In both the freely cooling and steadily driven systems, we confirm that the velocity distribution function has the form exp(−α|v|β). The value of exponent β is close to 1.5 for the driven system in a highly excited case, which is consistent with theory derived under the assumption of the existence of the white-noise thermostat (van Noije & Ernst, Gran. Mat., vol. 1, 1998, p. 5764). In the freely cooling system, the value of β evolves from 1.5 to 1 as the cooling proceeds, and the system's energy decays algebraically (Tg = T0(1 + t/τ)−2), agreeing with Haff's law (Haff, J. Fluid Mech., vol. 134, 1983, p. 401430).

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