We consider a homoclinic bifurcation of a vector field in R^3, where a one-dimensional unstable manifold of an equilibrium is contained in the two-dimensional stable manifold of this same equilibrium. How such one-dimensional connecting orbits arise is well understood, and software packages exist to detect and follow them in parameters. In this paper we address an issue that it is far less well understood: how does the associated two-dimensional stable manifold change geometrically during the given homoclinic bifurcation? This question can be answered with the help of advanced numerical techniques. More specifically, we compute two-dimensional manifolds, and their one-dimensional intersection curves with a suitable cross-section, via the numerical continuation of orbit segments as solutions of a boundary value problem. In this way, we are able to explain how homoclinic bifurcations may lead to quite dramatic changes of the overall dynamics. This is demonstrated with two examples. We first consider a Shilnikov bifurcation in a semiconductor laser model, and show how the two-dimensional stable manifold changes in the process. We then investigate how the basins of the two symmetrically related attracting equilibria change to give rise to preturbulence in the first homoclinic explosion of the Lorenz system.
|Publication status||Published - Nov 2009|