Gravitational phase transitions with an exclusion constraint in position space
Laboratoire de Physique Théorique (IRSAMC), CNRS and
UPS, Université de Toulouse, 31062
Received in final form: 18 November 2013
Published online: 13 January 2014
We discuss the statistical mechanics of a system of self-gravitating particles with an exclusion constraint in position space in a space of dimension d. The exclusion constraint puts an upper bound on the density of the system and can stabilize it against gravitational collapse. We plot the caloric curves giving the temperature as a function of the energy and investigate the nature of phase transitions as a function of the size of the system and of the dimension of space in both microcanonical and canonical ensembles. We consider stable and metastable states and emphasize the importance of the latter for systems with long-range interactions. For d ≤ 2, there is no phase transition. For d > 2, phase transitions can take place between a “gaseous” phase unaffected by the exclusion constraint and a “condensed” phase dominated by this constraint. The condensed configurations have a core-halo structure made of a “rocky core” surrounded by an “atmosphere”, similar to a giant gaseous planet. For large systems there exist microcanonical and canonical first order phase transitions. For intermediate systems, only canonical first order phase transitions are present. For small systems there is no phase transition at all. As a result, the phase diagram exhibits two critical points, one in each ensemble. There also exist a region of negative specific heats and a situation of ensemble inequivalence for sufficiently large systems. We show that a statistical equilibrium state exists for any values of energy and temperature in any dimension of space. This differs from the case of the self-gravitating Fermi gas for which there is no statistical equilibrium state at low energies and low temperatures when d ≥ 4. By a proper interpretation of the parameters, our results have application for the chemotaxis of bacterial populations in biology described by a generalized Keller-Segel model including an exclusion constraint in position space. They also describe colloids at a fluid interface driven by attractive capillary interactions when there is an excluded volume around the particles. Connexions with two-dimensional turbulence are also mentioned.
Key words: Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag, 2014