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Communicated by G. Haller Summary. In this paper we study the exponentially small splitting of a heteroclinic connection in a one-parameter family of analytic vector fields in R 3. This family arises from the conservative analytic unfoldings of the so-called Hopf zero singularity (central singularity). The family under consideration can be seen as a small perturbation of an integrable vector field having a heteroclinic orbit between two critical points along the z axis. We prove that, generically, when the whole family is considered, this heteroclinic connection is destroyed. Moreover, we give an asymptotic formula of the distance between the stable and unstable manifolds when they meet the plane z = 0. This distance is exponentially small with respect to the unfolding parameter, and the main term is a suitable version of the Melnikov integral given in terms of the Borel transform of some function depending on the higher-order terms of the family. The results are obtained in a perturbative setting that does not cover the generic unfoldings of the Hopf singularity, which can be obtained as a singular limit of the considered family. To deal with this singular case, other techniques are needed. The reason to study the breakdown of the heteroclinic orbit is that it can lead to the birth of some homoclinic connection to one of the critical points in the unfoldings of the Hopf-zero singularity, producing what is known as a Shilnikov bifurcation. Key words. Exponentially small splitting, Hopf-zero bifurcation, Melnikov function, Borel transform 1

Year: 2011

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