a1 Departments of Mathematics and Theoretical and Applied Mechanics and Center for Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A.
This paper describes a previously undocumented phenomenon in dynamical systems theory; namely, the occurrence of heteroclinic cycles that are structurally stable within the space of Cr vector fields equivariant with respect to a symmetry group. In the space X(M) of Cr vector fields on a manifold M, there is a residual set of vector fields having no trajectories joining saddle points with stable manifolds of the same dimension. Such heteroclinic connections are a structurally unstable phenomenon . However, in the space XG(M) ⊂ X(M) of vector fields equivariant with respect to a symmetry group G, the situation can be quite different. We give an example of an open set U of topologically equivalent vector fields in the space of vector fields on 3 equivariant with respect to a particular finite subgroup G ⊂ O(3) such that each X U has a heteroclinic cycle that is an attractor. The heteroclinic cycles consist of three equilibrium points and three trajectories joining them.
(Received March 16 1987)