Quantum Mechanics of the Solar System

Autores UPV
Revista Latin-American Journal of Physics Education


According to the correspondence principle, as formulated by Bohr, both in the old and the modern quantum theory, the classical limit should be recovered for large values of the quantum numbers in any quantum system. However, this classical limit of quantum theory is not so straightforward as in the interface of other generalizations of classical mechanics and other domains. In particular, relativistic kinematics and mechanics reduce to Newtonian equations by simple algebra in the case of bodies moving with small velocities compared to the speed of light in vacuum. In this paper we consider the correspondence limit to the two-body problem in gravitational physics, the limit in which both the principal and the angular quantum numbers, N, L are very large. In this limit, we compare with the classical elliptical orbits and we find that the macroscopic coherent quantum states correspond to the statistical average of every classical state compatible with conservation laws for the total energy and angular momentum. We also consider the perturbed Kepler problem with a central perturbation force proportional to the inverse of the cube of the distance to the central body. The exact solution for the quantum eigenstates shows that the first order perturbation to the energy eigenvalues are obtained classically as the temporal orbital average of the perturbation potential.