Universal dynamics in the expansion of vortex clusters in a dissipative two-dimensional superfluid

Oliver R. Stockdale, Matthew T. Reeves, Xiaoquan Yu, Guillaume Gauthier, Kwan Goddard-Lee, Warwick P. Bowen, Tyler W. Neely and Matthew J. Davis

A large ensemble of quantum vortices in a superfluid may itself be treated as a novel kind of fluid that exhibits anomalous hydrodynamics. Here we consider the dynamics of vortex clusters under thermal friction and present an analytic solution that uncovers a new universality class in the out-of-equilibrium dynamics of dissipative superfluids. We find that the long-time dynamics of the vorticity distribution is universal in the form of an expanding Rankine vortex (i.e., top-hat distribution) independent of initial conditions. This highlights a fundamentally different decay process to classical fluids, where the Rankine vortex is forbidden by viscous diffusion. Numerical simulations of large ensembles of point vortices confirm the universal expansion dynamics and further reveal the emergence of a frustrated lattice structure marked by strong correlations. We present experimental results of expanding vortex clusters in a quasi-two-dimensional Bose-Einstein condensate that are in excellent agreement with the vortex fluid theory predictions, demonstrating that the signatures of vortex fluid theory can be observed with as few as N∼11 vortices. Our theoretical, numerical, and experimental results establish the validity of the vortex fluid theory for superfluid systems.