Initially, elliptical, quasitwodimensional (2D) fluid vortices can split into multiple pieces if the aspect ratio is sufficiently large due to the growth and saturation of perturbations known as Love modes on the vortex edge. Presented here are experiments and numerical simulations, showing that the aspect ratio threshold for vortex splitting is significantly higher for vortices with realistic, smooth edges than that predicted by a simple “vortex patch” model, where the vorticity is treated as piecewise constant inside a deformable boundary. The experiments are conducted by exploiting the E × B drift dynamics of collisionless, pure electron plasmas in a Penning–Malmberg trap, which closely model 2D vortex dynamics due to an isomorphism between the Drift–Poisson equations describing the plasmas and the Euler equations describing ideal fluids. The simulations use a particleincell method to model the evolution of a set of point vortices. The aspect ratio splitting threshold ranges up to about twice as large as the vortex patch prediction and depends on the edge vorticity gradient. This is thought to be due to spatial Landau damping, which decreases the vortex aspect ratio over time and, thus, stabilizes the Love modes. Near the threshold, asymmetric splitting events are observed in which one of the split products contains much less circulation than the other. These results are relevant to a wide range of quasi2D fluid systems, including geophysical fluids, astrophysical disks, and driftwave eddies in tokamak plasmas.
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Wongwaitayakornkul, P. ; Danielson, J. R. ; Hurst, N. C. ; Dubin, D. H. ; Surko, C. M. ( , Physics of Plasmas)Inviscid spatial Landau damping is studied experimentally for the case of oscillatory motion of a twodimensional vortex about its elliptical equilibrium in the presence of an applied strain flow. The experiments are performed using electron plasmas in a Penning–Malmberg trap. They exploit the isomorphism between the twodimensional Euler equations for an ideal fluid and the driftPoisson equations for the plasma, where plasma density is the analog of vorticity. Perturbed elliptical vortex states are created using [Formula: see text] strain flows, which are generated by applying voltages to electrodes surrounding the plasma. Measurements of spatial Landau damping (also called criticallayer damping) are in agreement with previous studies in the absence of an applied strain, where the damping is due to a resonance between the local fluid motion and the vortex oscillations. Interestingly, the damping rate does not change significantly over a wide range of applied strain rates. This can be accurately predicted from the initial vorticity profile, even though the resonant frequency is reduced substantially due to the applied strain. For higher amplitude perturbations, nonlinear trapping oscillations also exhibit behavior similar to the strainfree case. In principle, higherorder effects of the applied strain, such as separatrix crossing of peripheral vorticity and interactions with harmonics of the fundamental resonance, are expected to change the damping rate. However, this occurs only for conditions that are not realized in the experiments described here. Vortexincell simulations are used to investigate the possible roles of these effects.more » « less