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Instability of the periodic hip-hop orbit in the $2N$-body problem with equal masses

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  • The hip-hop orbit is an interesting symmetric periodic family of orbits whereby the global existence methods of variational analysis applied to the N-body problem result in a collision free solution of (1). Perturbation techniques have been applied to study families of hip-hop like orbits bifurcating from a uniformly rotating planar 2N-gon [4] with equal masses, or a uniformly rotating planar 2N+1 body relative equilibrium with a large central mass [18]. We study the question of stability or instability for symmetric periodic solutions of the equal mass $2N$-body problem without perturbation methods. The hip-hop family is a family of $\mathbb{Z}_2$-symmetric action minimizing solutions, investigated by [7,23], and is shown to be generically hyperbolic on its reduced energy-momentum surface. We employ techniques from symplectic geometry and specifically a variant of the Maslov index for curves of Lagrangian subspaces along the minimizing hip-hop orbit to develop conditions which preclude the existence of eigenvalues of the monodromy matrix on the unit circle.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: 34C35, 34C27, 54H20.


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