11-118 Sonia Pinto-de-Carvalho, Rafael Ram rez-Ros
Nonpersistence of resonant caustics in perturbed elliptic billiards (201K, PDF) Aug 29, 11
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Abstract. Caustics are curves with the property that a billiard trajectory, once tangent to it, stays tangent after every reflection at the boundary of the billiard table. When the billiard table is an ellipse, any nonsingular billiard trajectory has a caustic, which can be either a confocal ellipse or a confocal hyperbola. Resonant caustics ---the ones whose tangent trajectories are closed polygons--- are destroyed under generic perturbations of the billiard table. We prove that none of the resonant elliptical caustics persists under a large class of explicit perturbations of the original ellipse. This result follows from a standard Melnikov argument and the analysis of the complex singularities of certain elliptic functions.

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