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Homoclinic snaking near the surface instability of a polarisable fluid. (English) Zbl 1382.76291
Summary: We report on localised patches of cellular hexagons observed on the surface of a magnetic fluid in a vertical magnetic field. These patches are spontaneously generated by jumping into the neighbourhood of the unstable branch of the domain-covering hexagons of the Rosensweig instability upon which the patches equilibrate and stabilise. They are found to coexist in intervals of the applied magnetic field strength parameter around this branch. We formulate a general energy functional for the system and a corresponding Hamiltonian that provide a pattern selection principle allowing us to compute Maxwell points (where the energy of a single hexagon cell lies in the same Hamiltonian level set as the flat state) for general magnetic permeabilities. Using numerical continuation techniques, we investigate the existence of localised hexagons in the Young–Laplace equation coupled to the Maxwell equations. We find that cellular hexagons possess a Maxwell point, providing an energetic explanation for the multitude of measured hexagon patches. Furthermore, it is found that planar hexagon fronts and hexagon patches undergo homoclinic snaking, corroborating the experimentally detected intervals. Besides making a contribution to the specific area of ferrofluids, our work paves the ground for a deeper understanding of homoclinic snaking of two-dimensional localised patches of cellular patterns in many physical systems.

76W05 Magnetohydrodynamics and electrohydrodynamics
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