Horizon effects with surface waves on moving water

G. Rousseau, P. Maissa, P. Coullet, Thomas Gerard Philbin, Ulf Leonhardt

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Surface waves on a stationary flow of water are considered in a linear model that includes the surface tension of the fluid. The resulting gravity-capillary waves experience a rich array of horizon effects when propagating against the flow. In some cases, three horizons (points where the group velocity of the wave reverses) exist for waves with a single laboratory frequency. Some of these effects are familiar in fluid mechanics under the name of wave blocking, but other aspects, in particular waves with negative co-moving frequency and the Hawking effect, were overlooked until surface waves were investigated as examples of analogue gravity (Schützhold R and Unruh W G 2002 Phys. Rev. D 66 044019). A comprehensive presentation of the various horizon effects for gravity-capillary waves is given, with emphasis on the deep water/ short wavelength case kh>>1, where many analytical results can be derived. A similarity of the state space of the waves to that of a thermodynamic system is pointed out.

Original languageEnglish
Article number095018
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • Surface waves
  • Surface tension
  • Horizon effects
  • Analogue gravity
  • Gravity capillary waves


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