Fr.: relaxation dynamique
The evolution over time of a gravitationally → bound system consisting of N components because of encounters between the components, as studied in → stellar dynamics. Due to this process, in a → star cluster, → low-mass stars may acquire larger random velocities, and consequently occupy a larger volume than → high-mass stars. As a result, massive stars sink to the cluster centre on a time-scale that is inversely proportional to their mass. See also → mass segregation.