Numerical bifurcation of Hamiltonian relative periodic orbits

Claudia Wulff, Frank Schilder

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Relative periodic orbits (RPOs) are ubiquitous in symmetric Hamiltonian systems and occur, for example, in celestial mechanics, molecular dynamics, and the motion of rigid bodies. RPOs are solutions which are periodic orbits of the symmetry-reduced system. In this paper we analyze certain symmetry-breaking bifurcations of RPOs in Hamiltonian systems with compact symmetry group and show how they can be detected and computed numerically. These are turning points of RPOs and relative period-doubling and relative period-halving bifurcations along branches of RPOs. In a comoving frame the latter correspond to symmetry-breaking/symmetry-increasing pitchfork bifurcations or to period-doubling/period-halving bifurcations. We apply our methods to the family of rotating choreographies which bifurcate from the famous figure eight solution of the three-body problem as angular momentum is varied. We find that the family of choreographies rotating around the $e^2$-axis bifurcates to the family of rotating choreographies that connects to the Lagrange relative equilibrium. Moreover, we compute several relative period-doubling bifurcations and a turning point of the family of planar rotating choreographies, which bifurcates from the figure eight solution when the third component of the angular momentum vector is varied.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalS I A M Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)931-966
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • numerical bifurcation analysis
    • relative periodic orbits
    • symmetric Hamiltonian systems

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