Document Type



Mathematics (HMC)

Publication Date



In many problems, e.g., in combustion or solidification, one observes traveling waves that propagate with constant velocity and shape in the x direction, say, are independent of y and z and describe transitions between two equilibrium states, e.g., the burned and the unburned reactants. As parameters of the system are varied, these traveling waves can become unstable and give rise to waves having additional structure, such as traveling waves in the y and z directions, which can themselves be subject to instabilities as parameters are further varied. To investigate this scenario we consider a system of reaction-diffusion equations with a traveling wave solution as a basic state. We determine solutions bifurcating from the basic state that describe counterpropagating traveling waves in directions orthogonal to the direction of propagation of the basic state and determine their stability. Specifically, we derive long wave modulation equations for the amplitudes of the counterpropagating traveling waves that are coupled to an equation for a mean field, generated by the translation of the basic state in the direction of its propagation. The modulation equations are then employed to determine stability boundaries to long wave perturbations for both unidirectional and counterpropagating traveling waves. The stability analysis is delicate because the results depend on the order in which transverse and longitudinal perturbation wavenumbers are taken to zero. For the unidirectional wave we demonstrate that it is sufficient to consider the cases of (i) purely transverse perturbations, (ii) purely longitudinal perturbations, and (iii) longitudinal perturbations with a small transverse component. These yield Eckhaus type, zigzag type, and skew type instabilities, respectively. The latter arise as a specific result of interaction with the mean field. We also consider the degenerate case of very small group velocity, as well as other degenerate cases, which yield several additional instability boundaries. The stability analysis is then extended to the case of counterpropagating traveling waves.

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© 1995 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics