Gravitational potentials (gala.potential)#


This subpackage provides a number of classes for working with parametric models of gravitational potentials. There are a number of built-in potentials implemented in C and Cython (for speed), and there are base classes that allow for easy creation of new custom potential classes in pure Python or by writing custom C/Cython extensions. The Potential objects have convenience methods for computing common dynamical quantities, for example: potential energy, spatial gradient, density, or mass profiles. These are particularly useful in combination with the integrate and dynamics subpackages.

Also defined in this subpackage are a set of reference frames which can be used for numerical integration of orbits in non-static reference frames. See the page on Hamiltonian objects and reference frames for more information. Potential objects can be combined with a reference frame and stored in a Hamiltonian object that provides an easy interface to numerical orbit integration.

For the examples below the following imports have already been executed:

>>> import astropy.units as u
>>> import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
>>> import numpy as np
>>> import gala.potential as gp
>>> from gala.units import galactic, solarsystem, dimensionless

Getting Started: Built-in Methods of Potential Classes#

Any of the built-in Potential classes are initialized by passing in keyword argument parameter values as Quantity objects or as numeric values in a specified unit system. To see what parameters are available for a given potential, check the documentation for the individual classes below. You must also specify a UnitSystem when initializing a potential. A unit system is a set of non-reducible units that define (at minimum) the length, mass, time, and angle units. A few common unit systems are built in to the package (e.g., galactic, solarsystem, dimensionless). For example, to create an object to represent a Kepler potential (point mass) at the origin with mass = 1 solar mass, we would instantiate a KeplerPotential object:

>>> ptmass = gp.KeplerPotential(m=1.*u.Msun, units=solarsystem)
>>> ptmass
<KeplerPotential: m=1.00 (AU,yr,solMass,rad)>

If you pass in parameters with different units, they will be converted to the specified unit system:

>>> gp.KeplerPotential(m=1047.6115*u.Mjup, units=solarsystem)
<KeplerPotential: m=1.00 (AU,yr,solMass,rad)>

If no units are specified for a parameter (i.e. a parameter value is passed in as a Python numeric value or array), it is assumed to be in the specified UnitSystem:

>>> gp.KeplerPotential(m=1., units=solarsystem)
<KeplerPotential: m=1.00 (AU,yr,solMass,rad)>

The potential classes work well with the astropy.units framework, but to ignore units you can use the DimensionlessUnitSystem or pass None as the unit system:

>>> gp.KeplerPotential(m=1., units=None)
<KeplerPotential: m=1.00 (dimensionless)>

All of the built-in potential objects have defined methods to evaluate the potential energy and the gradient/acceleration at a given position or array of positions. For example, to evaluate the potential energy at the 3D position (x, y, z) = (1, -1, 0) AU:

>>>[1., -1., 0.] *
<Quantity [-27.91440236] AU2 / yr2>

These functions also accept both Quantity objects or plain ndarray-like objects (in which case the position is assumed to be in the unit system of the potential):

>>>[1., -1., 0.])
<Quantity [-27.91440236] AU2 / yr2>

This also works for multiple positions by passing in a 2D position (but see Conventions for a description of the interpretation of different axes):

>>> pos = np.array([[1., -1. ,0],
...                 [2., 3., 0]]).T
>>> *
<Quantity [-27.91440236, -10.94892941] AU2 / yr2>

We can also compute the gradient or acceleration:

>>> ptmass.gradient([1., -1., 0] * 
<Quantity [[ 13.95720118],
           [  0.        ]] AU / yr2>
>>> ptmass.acceleration([1., -1., 0] * 
<Quantity [[-13.95720118],
           [ 13.95720118],
           [ -0.        ]] AU / yr2>

Most of the potential objects also have methods implemented for computing the corresponding mass density and the Hessian of the potential (the matrix of 2nd derivatives) at given locations. For example, with the HernquistPotential, we can evaluate both the mass density and Hessian at the position (x, y, z) = (1, -1, 0) kpc:

>>> pot = gp.HernquistPotential(m=1E9*u.Msun, c=1.*u.kpc, units=galactic)
>>> pot.density([1., -1., 0] * u.kpc) 
<Quantity [7997938.82200887] solMass / kpc3>
>>> pot.hessian([1., -1., 0] * u.kpc) 
<Quantity [[[ -4.68318131e-05],
            [  5.92743432e-04],
            [  0.00000000e+00]],

           [[  5.92743432e-04],
            [ -4.68318131e-05],
            [  0.00000000e+00]],

           [[  0.00000000e+00],
            [  0.00000000e+00],
            [  5.45911619e-04]]] 1 / Myr2>

Another useful method is mass_enclosed(), which numerically estimates the mass enclosed within a spherical shell defined by the specified position. This numerically estimates \(\frac{d \Phi}{d r}\) along the vector pointing at the specified position and estimates the enclosed mass simply as \(M(<r)\approx\frac{r^2}{G} \frac{d \Phi}{d r}\). This function can be used to compute, for example, a mass profile:

>>> pot = gp.NFWPotential(m=1E11*u.Msun, r_s=20.*u.kpc, units=galactic)
>>> pos = np.zeros((3,100)) * u.kpc
>>> pos[0] = np.logspace(np.log10(20./100.), np.log10(20*100.), pos.shape[1]) * u.kpc
>>> m_profile = pot.mass_enclosed(pos)
>>> plt.loglog(pos[0], m_profile, marker='') 
>>> plt.xlabel("$r$ [{}]".format(pos.unit.to_string(format='latex'))) 
>>> plt.ylabel("$M(<r)$ [{}]".format(m_profile.unit.to_string(format='latex'))) 

(Source code, png, pdf)


Plotting Equipotential and Isodensity contours#

Potential objects provide specialized methods for visualizing the isopotential (plot_contours()) or isodensity (plot_density_contours()) contours of a given potential object. These methods plot either 1D slices or 2D contour plots of isopotentials and isodensities. To plot a 1D slice over the dimension of interest, pass in a grid of values for that dimension and numerical values for the others. For example, to make a 1D plot of the potential value as a function of \(x\) position at \(y=0, z=1\):

>>> p = gp.MiyamotoNagaiPotential(m=1E11, a=6.5, b=0.27, units=galactic)
>>> fig, ax = plt.subplots() 
>>> p.plot_contours(grid=(np.linspace(-15,15,100), 0., 1.), marker='', ax=ax) 
>>> E_unit = p.units['energy'] / p.units['mass']
>>> ax.set_xlabel("$x$ [{}]".format(p.units['length'].to_string(format='latex'))) 
>>> ax.set_ylabel("$\Phi(x,0,1)$ [{}]".format(E_unit.to_string(format='latex'))) 

(Source code, png, pdf)


To instead make a 2D contour plot over \(x\) and \(z\) along with \(y=0\), pass in a 1D grid of values for \(x\) and a 1D grid of values for \(z\) (the meshgridding is taken care of internally). Here, we choose to draw on a pre-defined matplotlib axes object so we can set the labels and aspect ratio of the plot:

>>> fig,ax = plt.subplots(1, 1, figsize=(12, 4))
>>> x = np.linspace(-15, 15, 100)
>>> z = np.linspace(-5, 5, 100)
>>> p.plot_contours(grid=(x, 1., z), ax=ax) 
>>> ax.set_xlabel("$x$ [kpc]") 
>>> ax.set_ylabel("$z$ [kpc]") 

(Source code, png, pdf)


Saving / loading potential objects#

Potential objects can be pickled and can therefore be stored for later use. However, pickles are saved as binary files. It may be useful to save to or load from text-based specifications of Potential objects. This can be done with the save() method and the load() function, which serialize and de-serialize (respectively) a Potential object to a YAML file:

>>> from gala.potential import load
>>> pot = gp.NFWPotential(m=6E11*u.Msun, r_s=20.*u.kpc,
...                       units=galactic)
>>> load("potential.yml")
<NFWPotential: m=6.00e+11, r_s=20.00, a=1.00, b=1.00, c=1.00 (kpc,Myr,solMass,rad)>

Exporting potentials as sympy expressions#

Most of the potential classes can be exported to a sympy expression that can be used to manipulate or evaluate the form of the potential. To access this functionality, the potential classes have a to_sympy classmethod (note: this requires sympy to be installed):

>>> expr, vars_, pars = gp.LogarithmicPotential.to_sympy()
>>> str(expr)
'0.5*v_c**2*log(r_h**2 + z**2/q3**2 + y**2/q2**2 + x**2/q1**2)'

This method also returns a dictionary containing the coordinate variables used in the expression as sympy symbols, here defined as vars_:

>>> vars_
{'x': x, 'y': y, 'z': z}

A second dictionary containing the potential parameters as sympy symbols is also returned, here defined as pars:

>>> pars
{'v_c': v_c, 'r_h': r_h, 'q1': q1, 'q2': q2, 'q3': q3, 'phi': phi, 'G': G}

The expressions and variables returned can be used to perform operations on the potential expression. For example, to create a sympy expression for the gradient of the potential:

>>> import sympy as sy
>>> grad = sy.derive_by_array(expr, list(vars_.values()))
>>> grad[0]  # dPhi/dx
1.0*v_c**2*x/(q1**2*(r_h**2 + z**2/q3**2 + y**2/q2**2 + x**2/q1**2))

Using gala.potential#

More details are provided in the linked pages below:


gala.potential.potential Package#


from_equation(expr, vars, pars[, name, hessian])

Create a potential class from an expression for the potential.

load(f[, module])

Read a potential specification file and return a PotentialBase object instantiated with parameters specified in the spec file.

save(potential, f)

Write a PotentialBase object out to a text (YAML) file.


BovyMWPotential2014([units, disk, halo, bulge])

An implementation of the MWPotential2014 from galpy and described in Bovy (2015).


CPotentialBase(*[, units, origin, R])

A baseclass for defining gravitational potentials implemented in C.


A potential composed of several distinct components.

CylSplinePotential(grid_R, grid_z, grid_Phi, *)

A flexible potential model that uses spline interpolation over a 2D grid in cylindrical R-z coordinates.

HarmonicOscillatorPotential(omega, *[, ...])

Represents an N-dimensional harmonic oscillator.

HenonHeilesPotential(*[, units, origin, R])

The Hénon-Heiles potential.

HernquistPotential(m, c, *[, units, origin, R])

Hernquist potential for a spheroid.

IsochronePotential(m, b, *[, units, origin, R])

The Isochrone potential.

JaffePotential(m, c, *[, units, origin, R])

Jaffe potential for a spheroid.

KeplerPotential(m, *[, units, origin, R])

The Kepler potential for a point mass.

KuzminPotential(m, a[, units, origin, R])

Kuzmin potential for a flattened mass distribution.

LM10Potential([units, disk, bulge, halo])

The Galactic potential used by Law and Majewski (2010) to represent the Milky Way as a three-component sum of disk, bulge, and halo.

LeeSutoTriaxialNFWPotential(v_c, r_s, a, b, c)

Approximation of a Triaxial NFW Potential with the flattening in the density, not the potential.

LogarithmicPotential(v_c, r_h, q1, q2, q3[, ...])

Triaxial logarithmic potential.

LongMuraliBarPotential(m, a, b, c[, alpha, ...])

A simple, triaxial model for a galaxy bar.

MN3ExponentialDiskPotential(m, h_R, h_z[, ...])

A sum of three Miyamoto-Nagai disk potentials that approximate the potential generated by a double exponential disk.

MilkyWayPotential([units, disk, halo, ...])

A simple mass-model for the Milky Way consisting of a spherical nucleus and bulge, a Miyamoto-Nagai disk, and a spherical NFW dark matter halo.

MiyamotoNagaiPotential(m, a, b[, units, ...])

Miyamoto-Nagai potential for a flattened mass distribution.

MultipolePotential(*[, units, origin, R])

A perturbing potential represented by a multipole expansion.

NFWPotential(m, r_s[, a, b, c, units, origin, R])

General Navarro-Frenk-White potential.

NullPotential([units, origin, R])

A null potential with 0 mass.

PlummerPotential(m, b, *[, units, origin, R])

Plummer potential for a spheroid.

PotentialBase(*[, units, origin, R])

A baseclass for defining pure-Python gravitational potentials.

PowerLawCutoffPotential(m, alpha, r_c, *[, ...])

A spherical power-law density profile with an exponential cutoff.

SatohPotential(m, a, b[, units, origin, R])

Satoh potential for a flattened mass distribution.

StonePotential(m, r_c, r_h[, units, origin, R])

Stone potential from Stone & Ostriker (2015).

Class Inheritance Diagram#

Inheritance diagram of gala.potential.potential.builtin.special.BovyMWPotential2014, gala.potential.potential.ccompositepotential.CCompositePotential, gala.potential.potential.cpotential.CPotentialBase, gala.potential.potential.core.CompositePotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.CylSplinePotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.pybuiltin.HarmonicOscillatorPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.HenonHeilesPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.HernquistPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.IsochronePotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.JaffePotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.KeplerPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.KuzminPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.special.LM10Potential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.LeeSutoTriaxialNFWPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.LogarithmicPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.LongMuraliBarPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.MN3ExponentialDiskPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.special.MilkyWayPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.MiyamotoNagaiPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.MultipolePotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.NFWPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.NullPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.PlummerPotential, gala.potential.potential.core.PotentialBase, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.PowerLawCutoffPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.SatohPotential, gala.potential.potential.builtin.core.StonePotential

gala.potential.frame.builtin Package#


ConstantRotatingFrame(Omega, *[, units])

Represents a constantly rotating reference frame.


Represents a static intertial reference frame.

Class Inheritance Diagram#

Inheritance diagram of gala.potential.frame.builtin.frames.ConstantRotatingFrame, gala.potential.frame.builtin.frames.StaticFrame

gala.potential.hamiltonian Package#


Hamiltonian(potential[, frame])

Represents a composition of a gravitational potential and a reference frame.

Class Inheritance Diagram#

Inheritance diagram of gala.potential.hamiltonian.chamiltonian.Hamiltonian