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PRL 111, 230603 (2013) PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 6 DECEMBER 2013

Symmetry Breaking in d-Dimensional Self-Gravitating Systems


Renato Pakter,1 Bruno Marcos,1,2 and Yan Levin1
1
Instituto de Fsica, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Caixa Postal 15051, CEP 91501-970,
Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
2
Universite de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, CNRS, Laboratoire J.-A. Dieudonne, UMR 7351, Parc Valrose,
06108 Nice Cedex 02, France
(Received 14 June 2013; revised manuscript received 18 November 2013; published 6 December 2013)
Systems with long-range interactions, such as self-gravitating clusters and magnetically confined
plasmas, do not relax to the usual Boltzmann-Gibbs thermodynamic equilibrium, but become trapped
in quasistationary states (QSS) the lifetime of which diverges with the number of particles. The QSS are
characterized by the lack of ergodicity which can result in a symmetry broken QSS starting from a
spherically symmetric particle distribution. We will present a theory which allows us to quantitatively
predict the instability threshold for spontaneous symmetry breaking for a class of d-dimensional
self-gravitating systems.

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.230603 PACS numbers: 05.20.y, 05.45.a, 05.70.Ln

Lord Rayleigh was probably the first to make an obser- diverges with the number of particles [10]. The QSS are
vation that long-range forces can lead to symmetry break- characterized by the broken ergodicity, making equilib-
ing [1]. Rayleigh was studying the stability of conducting rium statistical mechanics inapplicable [11]. To explore
spherical fluid droplets carrying charge Q. He discovered spontaneous symmetry breaking of systems with long-
that when Q exceeds a certain critical threshold Qc , drop- range forces, therefore, requires a completely different
lets become unstable to symmetry breaking perturbations, approach [12]. In this Letter we will present a theory which
elongating and eventually breaking up, emitting jets of allows us to quantitatively predict the thresholds of sym-
fluid that carry away a significant fraction of the charge metry breaking instabilities for systems with long-range
[2]. Rayleigh instability is now the basis for various tech- interactions. The results of the theory will be compared
nological applications, such as electrospraying and electro- with extensive molecular dynamics simulations.
spinning. It also helps to understand the conformational To present the theory, we will study a class of self-
structure of charged polymers, such as polyampholytes [3]. gravitating systems of N particles of mass m in an infinite
For self-gravitating systems a similar instability has been d-dimensional space. The interaction potential between the
observed in gravitational simulations [4]. It has been found particles is Vr Gm2 =2  drd2 , where G is the
that an initially spherically symmetric self-gravitating sys- gravitational constant. We will work in thermodynamic
tem can become unstable, leading to formation of struc- limit, N ! 1 and m ! 0, while the total mass M  Nm
tures of reduced symmetry [4]. This radial orbit instability remains fixed. The initial particle distribution is assumed to
is believed to be important for the formation of elliptical be a uniform spherically symmetric waterbag in both con-
galaxies [5]. figuration and velocity space,
There is, however, a fundamental difference between the
d2
Rayleigh instability of charged spherical droplets and the f0 r; v rm  rvm  v; (1)
instability of spherically symmetric self-gravitating sys- C2d rdm vdm
tems. Since the droplets are in (canonical) thermodynamic where  is the Heaviside step function, Cd
equilibrium, their shape must correspond to the minimum
2d=2 =d=2 is the surface area of a d-dimensional unit
of the Helmholtz free energyin fact, even for Q some-
sphere, and x is the gamma function. Since the initial
what below Qc , a spherical shape is already metastable,
waterbag distribution is not a stationary solution of the
with the global minimum corresponding to a strongly
collisionless Boltzmann (Vlasov) equation, the systems
prolate ellipsoid [6]. The thermal fluctuations, however,
will evolve with time. We are interested in discovering
are too small to overcome the barrier that separates the
under what conditions Eq. (1) becomes unstable to small
metastable minimum from the global one, so that the
nonaxisymmetric perturbations.
spherical shape persists up to the Rayleigh threshold. On
It is convenient to define dimensionless variables by
the other hand, gravitational systems are intrinsically
scaling the distance, time, velocities, gravitational poten-
microcanonicalisolated from environment [79]. In the p
thermodynamic limit, such long-range systems do not tial, and energy with respect to r0 rm , t0 rdm =GM,
p
2 d2
v0 GM=rd2 m , c 0 GM=rm , and E0 GM =rm ,
evolve to thermodynamic equilibrium but become trapped d2

in quasistationary states (QSS), the lifetime of which respectively. This is equivalent to setting rm G M 1.

0031-9007=13=111(23)=230603(5) 230603-1 2013 American Physical Society


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PRL 111, 230603 (2013) PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 6 DECEMBER 2013

The particle dynamics is governed by Newtons equations d


Vi V_ i Xi X_ i gi X1 ; . . . ; Xd : (9)
of motion 2
r r c r; t; (2) We define the emittance [15] in the ith direction as
2i t  d 22 hx2i ihx_ 2i i  hxi x_ i i2  Xi2 Vi2  X_ 2i Xi2 . Taking
where the dot stands for the time derivative and r
P a time derivative of 2i t and using Eqs. (8) and (9), it is
^ i , i 1; . . . ; d, is the particle position. In the thermo-
i xi e possible to show that the i t are the constants of motion,
dynamic limit, the correlations between the particles can i t i 0  i . Using this observation, the set of
be ignored, so that the force acting on a particle located at r Eqs. (8) and (9) reduces to
is F r c r; t, where c r; t is the mean gravitational
2 d
potential which satisfies the Poisson equation X i i3  Xi gi X1 ; . . . ; Xd : (10)
Xi 2
r2 c Cd nr; t; (3)
For the initial waterbag distribution, Eq. (1), 2i 0 v2m .
where nr; t is the particle number density. The virial theorem requires that a stationary gravita-
We define the envelope of the position and velocity tional system in d dimensions must have 2K 2  dU,
q
particle distributions to be Xi t d 2hx2i i and where K and U are the total kinetic and potential energies,
q respectively. For the initial waterbag distribution,
Vi t d 2hv2i i, respectively. The h  i corresponds K v2m d=2d 2 and the potential energy is U
to the average over all the particles. Note that in the d=2  dd 2, so that the virial condition reduces to
reduced units, Xi 0 1 and Vi 0 vm for all i, but as vm 1. Although the initial waterbag distribution is not a
the dynamics evolves, it is possible for the symmetry stationary solution of the collisionless Boltzmann (Vlasov)
between the different directions to become broken. Our equation, we expect that if the virial condition is satisfied,
goal is to determine the equations of evolution for Xi t the system will not exhibit strong envelope oscillations.
[13]. Taking two time derivatives of Xi2 t and one of Vi2 t This is indeed what has been observed for gravitational
and using the equations of motion, Eq. (2), we obtain systems in d 1, 2, and 3 [1619]. On the other hand, if
  the initial distribution does not satisfy the virial condition,
_X 2i Xi X i Vi2  d 2 xi @ c (4) the particle distribution will undergo violent oscillations
@xi
which will lead to QSS with a core-halo structure [16,18].
and To measure how strongly the initial distribution deviates
  from the virial condition, we define a viral number R0 
@c 2K=2  dU v2m . With this definition the emittance
Vi V_ i d 2 x_ i : (5)
@xi becomes 2i t R0 .
To calculate the averages appearing in Eqs. (4) and (5), Let us first consider a uniform spherically symmetric
we need to know the mean-gravitational potential. We mass distribution of radius Rt, i.e., Xi t Rt for
suppose that the originally spherically symmetric homoge- i 1; . . . ; d. In this case the integral in Eq. (7) can be
neous distribution can become distorted into an ellipsoidal evaluated analytically to yield gi 2Rd =d, and the equa-
shapeQ with the semiaxis fXi g and uniform density nr; t tion of evolution for the radius of the sphere becomes
d=Cd i Xi t. Using the ellipsoidal coordinate system [14], R 1
the gravitational field inside a d-dimensional ellipsoid with R 30  d1 ; (11)
R R
the semiaxis fXi g can be calculated explicitly to be
with R0 1 and R0_ 0. We see that, in agreement
@c d with the earlier discussion, if the initial distribution satis-
x g X ; . . . ; Xd ; (6)
@xi 2 i i 1 fies the virial condition, R0 1, the spheres radius
remains constant for all time, Rt 1 for any d. For
where
d  3, this equilibrium is stable because a small deviation
Z1 ds from R0 1 will result in small periodic oscillations of R.
gi X1 ; . . . ; Xd Qd : (7)
Xi2 s 2
s1=2 On the other hand, for d  4 the equilibrium is unstable,
0 j1 Xj
and any R0  1 will lead to either collapse or an
Furthermore, for a d-dimensional ellipsoid with a uniform unbounded expansion of the particle distribution. These
mass distribution, it can be shown that hx2i i Xi2 =d 2. conclusions are in agreement with the old observation of
Substituting these results in Eqs. (4) and (5), we obtain a Ehrenfest, who first noted that there are no stable orbits for
closed set of coupled equations: Newtonian gravity in d  4 [20].
d To investigate the possible symmetry breaking of an
X_ 2i Xi X i Vi2  Xi2 gi X1 ; . . . ; Xd (8) initially spherically symmetric mass distribution, we
2 need, therefore, to only consider d 2 and 3. For d 2,
and the integral in Eq. (7) can be performed analytically

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PRL 111, 230603 (2013) PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 6 DECEMBER 2013

yielding gi X1 ; X2 2=Xi X1 X2 . Equation (10) then and the dynamics of Xt is given by Eq. (15) with 21
2
simplifies to 2 R0 . If we now define a mapping Mt that relates
X t to its initial condition by X t Mt  X 0,
 2
X i i3  ; i 1; 2: (12) and substitute this into the evolution equation for X , we
Xi X1 X2 obtain
The symmetry breaking occurs if an initially vanishingly _ M  M;
small fluctuation grows as a function of time. To study this M with M0 I; (17)
instability, it is convenient to introduce new variables,
where I is the identity matrix. In order to determine the
 i t;
Xi t Xt (13) stability of ( 0, _ 0) fixed point, we simultaneously
P integrate Eqs. (15) and (17) over one period R of the
where X i Xi =d is the average of Xi s and i is the  (i.e., between two consecutive points
oscillation of Xt
asymmetry
P along the ith direction. Clearly i s are related
in the Poincare map), and determine the eigenvalues of the
by i i 0. Hence, for d 2 there is only one indepen- mapping matrix MR . If the absolute value of any eigen-
dent asymmetry variable  1 2 . To locate the
value is larger than 1, then ( 0, _ 0) fixed point will
region of instability, we perform a linear stability analysis
be unstable. We find that the asymmetric instability occurs
of Eq. (12). Noting that 21  22  O, to leading order
for R0 < 0:255893 . . . and for R0 > 2:55819 . . . . A more
in , Eq. (12) simplifies to
detailed analysis shows that it is produced by a pitchfork
2 2 2 2
31 2  1  2 ;
bifurcation and is of second order. In Fig. 1 we compare the
 (14)
2X 4 t 2X 3 t predictions of the theory with the results of extensive
molecular dynamics simulations performed using the
 to this order is
while the dynamics of Xt state-of-the-art gravitational oriented massively parallel
GADGET2 code [23], which has been appropriately modified
2 2 1
X 1  3 2   : (15) to integrate gravity in two dimensions. At t 0 the parti-
2X X cles are distributed in accordance with Eq. (1). To force the
The dynamics of  is driven by the oscillations of Xt.  In symmetry breaking to occur along the x axis, a small
particular, if the virial condition is satisfied and 21 22 perturbation in this direction is introduced. We then moni-
R0 1, the ( 0, _ 0) is a stable fixed point of tor the moments hx2 i and hy2 i as the dynamics evolves.
Eq. (14). Therefore, if R0  1, for small initial asymme- Figure 1 shows the evolution of the moments for two
try, t will not grow in time. However, if the initial different virial numbers. We find that for R0 0:16 the
distribution does not satisfy the virial condition, Xt  will symmetry is broken, while for R0 0:36 the spherical
oscillate and may drive a parametric resonance which can symmetry is unaffected by the initial perturbation. This is in
make t unstable. This is precisely what is observed in close agreement with the predictions of the present theory.
numerical integration of Eqs. (14) and (15). We find that A similar symmetry breaking transition is also found for
for sufficiently small (or large) R0 , the amplitude of t
0.5 0.5
oscillations grows without a bound. Note that in Eq. (14) 2 3
(a) (b)
the instability occurs as a consequence of a fluctuation 1.5
2.5
2
either in the velocity [0 0 and 1  2 ], the position 0.4
1
0.4
1.5

[0  0], or as a combination of both. For sufficiently


1
0.5 0.5
small (or large) R0 , we find that any small fluctuation in
0.3 0.3 0
0
0 25 50 75 100 0 25 50 75 100
the initial particle distribution is amplified by the dynam-
0.2 0.2
ics. Of course, in practice the growth of t will be
saturated by the Landau damping [16,18] and will result 0.1 0.1
in a QSS with a broken rotational symmetry. 0 100 200 300 400 0 100 200 300 400

To precisely locate the instability threshold, it is simplest


to consider a small fluctuation with 0  0 and 1 2 . FIG. 1 (color online). The evolution of x and y moments of the

Since the t is driven by the periodic oscillations of Xt, mass distribution, hx2 i (red solid curve) and hy2 i (blue dashed
to study this instability we must work in the Poincare curve) obtained using molecular dynamics simulations for a 2D
section [21,22]. system with N 8000. A small asymmetry in the x direction is
Consider a displacement vector from the ( 0, _ introduced in the initial particle distribution. For initial distribu-
0) fixed point, X t ; . _ From Eq. (14), we see tion with R0 0:36 (a), the system relaxes to a QSS with a
spherical symmetry (see also Fig. 2), while for R0 0:16 (b),
that its dynamics is governed by X_  M  X , where
spherical symmetry is broken. Similar behavior is found for R0
!
0 1 above the upper critical threshold; see Fig. 2. The inset shows the
M ; (16) evolution of the virial number. Both the symmetric and the
 3RX 4
0
0 asymmetric QSS are fully virialized, R 1.

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PRL 111, 230603 (2013) PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 6 DECEMBER 2013
10 100
4 (a) 40 (b)
(a) (b)
2 20 5 50

0 0 0 0

-2 -20
-5 -50
-4 -40

-4 -2 0 2 4 -40 -20 0 20 40 -10 -100


-10 -5 0 5 10 -100 -50 0 50 100

FIG. 2. Snapshots of the x-y particle distribution in a QSS at FIG. 3. Snapshots of the x-y projection of the 3D particle
t 200. In (a) R0 2 and the symmetry remains unbroken, distribution (N 20000) at t 25. In (a) R0 0:5, the sym-
while in (b) R0 6:25 and the QSS has a broken rotational metry remains unbroken, while in (b) R0 0:01 there is a
symmetry. Note that the final particle distribution in both cases spontaneous symmetry breaking. Note that because of the par-
has a characteristic core-halo structure. ticle evaporation a 3D system does not relax to a QSS.

large virial numbers; see Fig. 2. Since the transitions are while the instability happens very quickly, showing that the
continuous, it is difficult to precisely locate the thresholds residual angular momentum does not play any role for the
of instability using molecular dynamics simulations. symmetry breaking studied in this Letter.
In Fig. 2 we show snapshots of two QSS to which the It is interesting to compare and contrast the Rayleigh
system relaxes after a few oscillations. In agreement with instability of charged conducting droplets and the instability
the theory, depending on the virial number, one of the QSS of self-gravitating systems. While the Rayleigh instability is
is spherically symmetric while the other one is not. For a true thermodynamic transition, the gravitational symmetry
d 3 the integral in Eq. (7) cannot be performed in terms breaking is not. When the charge on a droplet exceeds the
of simple analytical functions, and must be evaluated critical value Qc , it will undergo a first-order transition to a
numerically. To locate the instability, we once again prolate ellipsoid. On the other hand, the instability of a self-
make use of the variables defined in Eq. (13) and expand gravitating system is a purely dynamical phenomenon, aris-
Eq. (10) to linear order in i . For d 3, there are two ing from a parametric resonance that drives an asymmetric
independent variables 1 and 2 . Numerical integration of mode of oscillation. The magnitude of the instability is
these equations shows, once again, the existence of an saturated by the nonlinear Landau damping [24] which leads
instability for small and large virial numbers. To precisely to the formation of a nonequilibrium core-halo QSS. If the
locate the instability, we fix 21 22 23 R0 . To linear instability occurs, the broken ergodicity [11] prevents the
order the dynamics of equations for 1 and 2 then symmetry from being restored. In d 2, a self-gravitating
decouples and becomes identical. This means that we can system with a finite number of particles will eventually relax
study the stability using a single t variable. The matrix to thermodynamic equilibrium in which the distribution
that determines the evolution of the displacement vector function will have the usual Boltzmann-Gibbs form [18]
from ( 0, _ 0) fixed point now takes the form and the mean-gravitational potential will once again be
! spherically symmetric. The relaxation time to equilibrium,
0 1 however, diverges with N, so that in practice a sufficiently
M R15R0 ; (18)
5R4
0 large system (such as an elliptical galaxy) will never evolve
to equilibrium, but will stay in a nonequilibrium stationary
where Rt is given by Eq. (11) with d 3. Substituting state forever [25]. For such systems, once the instability
this matrix in Eq. (17) and adopting the procedure analo- occurs, the symmetry will remain irrevocably broken.
gous to the one used before, we find that the fixed point This work was partially supported by the CNPq,
( 0, _ 0) becomes unstable for R0 < 0:388666 . . . FAPERGS, INCT-FCx, and by the U.S.-AFOSR under
and R0 > 1:61133 . . . . Figure 3 shows two snapshots of Grant No. FA9550-12-1-0438. Numerical simulations
the evolution of a 3D gravitational systems. As predicted have been performed at the cluster of the SIGAMM
by the theory, for both small and large virial numbers the hosted at Observatoire de Cote dAzur, Universite de
spherical symmetry of the initial distribution is broken by NiceSophia Antipolis.
the parametric resonances.
For 3D systems finite angular momentum can also lead
to breaking of the spherical symmetry. This, however, is
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