Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solving a physics mystery: Those 'solitons' are really vortex rings

Date:
February 3, 2014
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
The same physics that gives tornadoes their ferocious stability lies at the heart of new research, and could lead to a better understanding of nuclear dynamics in studying fission, superconductors and the workings of neutron stars.

An example of a vortex ring, also called a toroidal bubble, which dolphins create under water. The concept of vortex rings lies at the heart of new University of Washington physics research.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington

The same physics that gives tornadoes their ferocious stability lies at the heart of new University of Washington research, and could lead to a better understanding of nuclear dynamics in studying fission, superconductors and the workings of neutron stars.

The work seeks to clarify what Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers witnessed when in 2013 they named a mysterious phenomenon -- an unusual long-lived wave traveling much more slowly than expected through a gas of cold atoms. They called this wave a "heavy soliton" and claimed it defied theoretical description.

But in one of the largest supercomputing calculations ever performed, UW physicists Aurel Bulgac and Michael Forbes and co-authors have found this to be a case of mistaken identity: The heavy solitons observed in the earlier experiment are likely vortex rings -- a sort of quantum equivalent of smoke rings.

"The experiment interpretation did not conform with theory expectations," said Bulgac. "We had to figure out what was really happening there. It was not obvious it was one thing or another -- thus it took a bit of police work."

A vortex ring is a doughnut-shaped phenomenon where fluids or gases knot and spin in a closed, usually circular loop. The physics of vortex rings is the same as that which gives stability to tornadoes, volcanic eruptions and mushroom clouds. (Dolphins actually create their own vortex rings in water for entertainment.)

"Using state-of-the-art computing techniques, we demonstrated with our simulation that virtually all aspects of the MIT results can be explained by vortex rings" said Forbes, an UW affiliate professor who in January became an assistant professor of physics at Washington State University.

He said the simulations they used "could revolutionize how we solve certain physics problems in the future," such as studying nuclear reactions without having to perform nuclear tests. As for neutron stars, he said the work also could lead to a better understanding of "glitches," or rapid increases in such a star's pulsation frequency, as this may be due to vortex interactions inside the star.

"We are now at a cusp where our computational capabilities are becoming sufficient to shed light on this longstanding problem. This is one of our current directions of research -- directly applying what we have learned from the vortex rings," Forbes said.

The computing work for the research -- one of the largest direct numerical simulations ever -- was performed on the supercomputer Titan, at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee, the nation's most powerful computer for open science. Work was also performed on the UW's Hyak high-performance computer cluster.

Bulgac and Forbes published their findings in a January issue of Physical Review Letters. Co-authors are Kenneth Roche of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the UW; Gabriel Wlazłowski of the Warsaw University of Technology and the UW; and Michelle Kelley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Peter Kelley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aurel Bulgac, Michael McNeil Forbes, Michelle M. Kelley, Kenneth J. Roche, Gabriel Wlazłowski. Quantized Superfluid Vortex Rings in the Unitary Fermi Gas. Physical Review Letters, 2014; 112 (2) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.025301

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Solving a physics mystery: Those 'solitons' are really vortex rings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154936.htm>.
University of Washington. (2014, February 3). Solving a physics mystery: Those 'solitons' are really vortex rings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154936.htm
University of Washington. "Solving a physics mystery: Those 'solitons' are really vortex rings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154936.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins