Escapes and recurrence in a simple Hamiltonian system

G. Contopoulos and K. Efstathiou
Cel. Mech., 88(2), pp. 163-183, 2004
DOI: 10.1023/B:CELE.0000016816.87061.11


Many physical systems can be modeled as scattering problems. For example, the motions of stars escaping from a galaxy can be described using a potential with two or more escape routes. Each escape route is crossed by an unstable Lyapunov orbit. The region between the two Lyapunov orbits is where the particle interacts with the system. We study a simple dynamical system with escapes using a suitably selected surface of section. The surface of section is partitioned in different escape regions which are defined by the intersections of the asymptotic manifolds of the Lyapunov orbits with the surface of section. The asymptotic curves of the other unstable periodic orbits form spirals around various escape regions. These manifolds, together with the manifolds of the Lyapunov orbits, govern the transport between different parts of the phase space. We study in detail the form of the asymptotic manifolds of a central unstable periodic orbit, the form of the escape regions and the infinite spirals of the asymptotic manifolds around the escape regions. We compute the escape rate for different values of the energy. In particular, we give the percentage of orbits that escape after a finite number of iterations. In a system with escapes one cannot define a Poincaré recurrence time, because the available phase space is infinite. However, for certain domains inside the lobes of the asymptotic manifolds there is a finite ‘minimum recurrence time’. We find the minimum recurrence time as a function of the energy.