A spinning superfluid concentrates its energy in particular places called vortices. Superfluids exist in many places in nature, from neutron stars to liquid Helium. We are interested in superfluid quark matter, which might exist in the core of neutron stars. The picture shows the energy surface of a superfluid system. The large peak in the middle is the energy profile of a double vortex in the superfluid, around which the fluid is whirling at double speed. The two peaks on either side are single vortices. The double vortex in the middle is in the process of decaying into two single vortices, as such a configuration is energetically favored.
This project is in collaboration with Prof. Mark G. Alford and Satyanarayana Kumar Mallavarapu, http://physics.wustl.edu/. This picture by Andreas Windisch (http://www.andreas-windisch.at) won the first place in the Category "Physics" in the "Inaugural Research as Art Contest 2015" at Washington University in St. Louis, http://raa.wustl.edu/.