Observation of Vortex Dipoles in an Oblate Bose-Einstein Condensate


We report experimental observations and numerical simulations of the formation, dynamics, and lifetimes of single and multiply charged quantized vortex dipoles in highly oblate dilute-gas Bose- Einstein condensates (BECs). We nucleate pairs of vortices of opposite charge (vortex dipoles) by forcing superfluid flow around a repulsive Gaussian obstacle within the BEC. By controlling the flow velocity we determine the critical velocity for the nucleation of a single vortex dipole, with excellent agreement between experimental and numerical results. We present measurements of vortex dipole dynamics, finding that the vortex cores of opposite charge can exist for many seconds and that annihilation is inhibited in our trap geometry. For sufficiently rapid flow velocities, clusters of like-charge vortices aggregate into long- lived multiply charged dipolar flow structures.

Physical Review Letters