Concept

Stable manifold

Summary
In mathematics, and in particular the study of dynamical systems, the idea of stable and unstable sets or stable and unstable manifolds give a formal mathematical definition to the general notions embodied in the idea of an attractor or repellor. In the case of hyperbolic dynamics, the corresponding notion is that of the hyperbolic set. Physical example The gravitational tidal forces acting on the rings of Saturn provide an easy-to-visualize physical example. The tidal forces flatten the ring into the equatorial plane, even as they stretch it out in the radial direction. Imagining the rings to be sand or gravel particles ("dust") in orbit around Saturn, the tidal forces are such that any perturbations that push particles above or below the equatorial plane results in that particle feeling a restoring force, pushing it back into the plane. Particles effectively oscillate in a harmonic well, damped by collisions. The stable direction is perpendicular to the ring. The unstab
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