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Ligon, Thomas Sumner (2018): The symmetry of the Kepler problem, the inverse Ligon-Schaaf mapping and the Birkhoff conjecture.
In: PLOS One 13(9), e0203821
Creative Commons Attribution 2MB


The Ligon-Schaaf regularization (LS mapping) was introduced in 1976 and has been used several times. However, we are not aware of any direct usage of the inverse mapping, perhaps since it appears at first sight to be quite complex, involves the use of a transcendental equation (referred to as the generalized Kepler equation) that cannot be solved in closed form, and lacks smoothness near the collision point. Here, we provide some insight into the significance of this equation, along with a very simple derivation and confirmation of the inverse LS mapping. Then we use numerical methods to investigate three applications: 1) solutions of the Kepler function, 2) calculation of orbits including time-of-flight data based on the Delaunay Hamiltonian, and 3) numerical evidence for the Birkhoff conjecture for the circular restricted 3-body problem.