Evidence for homoclinic orbits as a precursor to chaos in a magnetic pendulum

F. C. Moon, J. Cusumano, P. J. Holmes

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Experimental evidence is presented which supports the theory that homoclinic orbits in a Poincaré map associated with a phase space flow are precursors of chaotic motion. A permanent magnet rotor in crossed steady and time-varying magnetic field is shown to satisfy a set of third order differential equations analogous to the forced pendulum or to a particle in a combined periodic and travelling wave force field. Critical values of magnetic torque and forcing frequency are measured for chaotic oscillations of the rotor and are found to be consistent with a lower bound for the existence of homoclinic orbits derived by the method of Melnikov. The fractal nature of the strange attractor is revealed by a Poincaré map triggered by the angular position of the rotor. Numerical simulations using the model also agree well with both theoretical and experimental criteria for chaos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-390
Number of pages8
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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