Nonlinearity 7 (1994) 1565-1591. doi:10.1088/0951-7715/7/6/003

Chaos in magnetoconvection


Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics,
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB3 9EW, UK

Abstract. The partial differential equations (PDEs) for two-dimensional incompressible convection in a strong vertical magnetic field have a codimension-three bifurcation when the parameters are chosen so that the bifurcations to steady and oscillatory convection coincide and the limit of narrow rolls is taken. The third-order set of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) that govern the behaviour of the PDEs near this bifurcation are derived using perturbation theory. These ODEs are the normal form of the codimension-three bifurcation; as such, they prove to be an excellent predictor of the behaviour of the PDEs. This is the first time that a detailed comparison has been made between the chaotic behaviour of a set of PDEs and that of the corresponding set of model ODEs, in a parameter regime where the ODEs are expected to provide accurate approximations to solutions of the PDEs. Most significantly, the transition from periodic orbits to a chaotic Lorenz attractor predicted by the ODEs is recovered in the PDEs, making this one of the few situations in which the nature of chaotic oscillations observed numerically in PDEs can be established firmly. Including correction terms obtained from the perturbation calculation enables the ODEs to track accurately the bifurcations in the PDEs over an appreciable range of parameter values. Numerical calculations suggest that the T-point (where there are heteroclinic connections between a saddle point and a pair of saddle-foci), which is associated with the transition from a Lorenz attractor to a quasi-attractor in the normal form, is also found in the PDEs. Further numerical simulations of the PDEs with square rolls confirm the existence of chaotic oscillations associated with a heteroclinic connection between a pair of saddle-foci.

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