I've implemented a simple simulation of two planets (simple 2D disks really) in which the only force is gravity and there is also collision detection/response (collisions are completely elastic). I can launch one planet into orbit of the other just fine.
The collision detection code though does not work so well. I noticed that when one planet hits the other in a free fall it speeds backward and goes much higher than its original position. Some poking around convinced me that the simplistic Euler integration is causing the error.
Consider this case. One object has a mass of 1kg and the other has a mass equal to earth. Say the object is 10 meters above ground. Assume that our dt (delta t) is 1 second. The object goes to the height of 9 meters at the end of the first iteration, 7 at the end of the second, 4 at the end of the third and 0 at the end of the fourth iteration.
At this points it hits the ground and bounces back with the speed of 10 meters per second. The problem is with dt=1, on the first iteration it bounces back to a height of 10. It takes several more steps to make the object change its course.
So my question is, what integration method can I use which fixes this problem. Should I split dt to smaller pieces when velocity is high? Or should I use another method altogether? What method do you suggest?
EDIT: You can see the source code here at github:https://github.com/elektito/diskworld/