Royal Society Publishing

Integrable and Chaotic Motions of Four Vortices II. Collision Dynamics of Vortex Pairs

B. Eckhardt, H. Aref

Abstract

The interaction of two vortex pairs is investigated analytically and by numerical experiments from the vantage point of dynamical-systems theory. Vortex pairs can escape to infinity, so the phase space of this system is unbounded in contrast to that of four identical vortices investigated previously. Chaotic motion is nevertheless possible both for `bound states' of the system and for `scattering states'. For the bound states standard Poincare section techniques suffice. For scattering states chaos appears as complex structure in the numerically generated plot of scattering angle against impact parameter. Interpretations of physical space mechanisms leading to chaos are given. Analytical characterizations of the system include a formal reduction to two degrees of freedom by canonical transformations and an identification and discussion of integrable cases of which one is apparently new.

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