We report on experiments and simulations of the growth of a Bose-Einstein condensate in which vortices are observed to form spontaneously in a non-rotating potential. Between 10% and 50% of experiments result in between one and three unambiguous vortex cores. We simulate a temperature quench of a Bose gas through the critical point using the stochastic Gross-Pitaevskii equation and find remarkable agreement with the experimental data. Faster cooling results in a higher probability of vortex formation, and we interpret these results in light of the Kibble-Zurek scenario for the formation of topological defects in continuous phase transitions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics