Characterization of reconnecting vortices in superfluid helium

Gregory P. Bewley, Matthew S. Paoletti, Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, Daniel P. Lathrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


When two vortices cross, each of them breaks into two parts and exchanges part of itself for part of the other. This process, called vortex reconnection, occurs in classical and superfluids, and in magnetized plasmas and superconductors. We present the first experimental observations of reconnection between quantized vortices in superfluid helium. We do so by imaging micrometersized solid hydrogen particles trapped on quantized vortex cores and by inferring the occurrence of reconnection from the motions of groups of recoiling particles. We show that the distance separating particles on the just-reconnected vortex lines grows as a power law in time. The average value of the scaling exponent is approximately 1/2, consistent with the self-similar evolution of the vortices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13707-13710
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 16 2008



  • Reconnection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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