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Scale-free chaos in the 2D harmonically confined Vicsek model

R. Gonz\'alez-AlbaladejoL. L. Bonilla
Nov 2023
Animal motion and flocking are ubiquitous nonequilibrium phenomena that are often studied within active matter. In examples such as insect swarms, macroscopic quantities exhibit power laws with measurable critical exponents and ideas from phase transitions and statistical mechanics have been explored to explain them. The widely used Vicsek model with periodic boundary conditions has an ordering phase transition but the corresponding homogeneous ordered or disordered phases are different from observations of natural swarms. If a harmonic potential (instead of a periodic box) is used to confine particles, the numerical simulations of the Vicsek model display periodic, quasiperiodic and chaotic attractors. The latter are scale free on critical curves that produce power laws and critical exponents. Here we investigate the scale-free-chaos phase transition in two space dimensions. We show that the shape of the chaotic swarm on the critical curve reflects the split between core and vapor of insects observed in midge swarms and that the dynamic correlation function collapses only for a finite interval of small scaled times, as also observed. We explain the algorithms used to calculate the largest Lyapunov exponents, the static and dynamic critical exponents and compare them to those of the three-dimensional model.
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