## Abstract

We study numerically and theoretically (on a heuristic level) the time evolution of a gas confined to a cube of size L^{3} divided into two parts by a piston with mass M_{L} ∼ L^{2} which can only move in the x-direction. Starting with a uniform "double-peaked" (non Maxwellian) distribution of the gas and a stationary piston, we find that (a) after an initial quiescent period the system becomes unstable and the piston performs a damped oscillatory motion, and (b) there is a thermalization of the system leading to a Maxwellian distribution of the gas velocities. The time of the onset of the instability appears to grow like L log L while the relaxation time to the Maxwellian grows like L^{7/2}.

Original language | English (US) |
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Pages (from-to) | 507-527 |

Number of pages | 21 |

Journal | Journal of Statistical Physics |

Volume | 109 |

Issue number | 3-4 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - 2002 |

Externally published | Yes |

## All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Mathematical Physics

## Keywords

- Ideal gas
- Mechanical equilibrium
- Oscillations
- Piston
- Thermodynamical equilibrium