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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Shapes of rotating superfluid helium nanodroplets


Rotating superfluid He droplets of approximately 1 μm in diameter were obtained in a free nozzle beam expansion of liquid He in vacuum and were studied by single-shot coherent diffractive imaging using an x-ray free electron laser. The formation of strongly deformed droplets is evidenced by large anisotropies and intensity anomalies (streaks) in the obtained diffraction images. The analysis of the images shows that in addition to previously described axially symmetric oblate shapes, some droplets exhibit prolate shapes. Forward modeling of the diffraction images indicates that the shapes of rotating superfluid droplets are very similar to their classical counterparts, giving direct access to the droplet angular momenta and angular velocities. The analyses of the radial intensity distribution and appearance statistics of the anisotropic images confirm the existence of oblate metastable superfluid droplets with large angular momenta beyond the classical bifurcation threshold.

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