The impulse approximation and full N-body experiments are used to investigate the changes in mass and binding energy which result from gravitational encounters between spherical galaxies. Models with King (1966) and de Vaucouleurs (1948) surface density profiles, and radial, tangential, and isotropic velocity distributions. Results based on the impulse approximation depend on two collision parameters (the impact parameter and the ratio of the perturbing mass to the relative velocity at infinity); they agree well with N-body results. The asymptotic limit, valid for distant encounters, is found to approximate the correct results only for impact parameters larger than 10 effective radii. It is therefore of little use in most situations of interest. No simple 'linear' or 'quadratic' dependence of energy and mass loss on collision strength is found, but rather, a smooth intermediate behavior. Cross sections depend very little on the internal velocity structure of the galaxy, but quite strongly on the surface density profile in its outer parts. The reasons why these results disagree with the conclusions of previous workers are discussed.
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X); 295; 374-387