Complicated bifurcation structures that appear in nonlinear systems governed by partial differential equations (PDEs) can be explained by studying appropriate low-order amplitude equations. We demonstrate the power of this approach by considering compressible magnetoconvection. Numerical experiments reveal a transition from a regime with a subcritical Hopf bifurcation from the static solution, to one where finite-amplitude oscillations persist although there is no Hopf bifurcation from the static solution. This transition is associated with a codimension-two bifurcation with a pair of zero eigenvalues. We show that the bifurcation pattern found for the PDEs is indeed predicted by the second-order normal form equation (with cubic nonlinearities) for a Takens-Bogdanov bifurcation with Z2 symmetry. We then extend this equation by adding quintic nonlinearities and analyse the resulting system. Its predictions provide a qualitatively accurate description of solutions of the full PDEs over a wider range of parameter values. Replacing the reflecting (Z2) lateral boundary conditions with periodic [O(2)] boundaries allows stable travelling wave and modulated wave solutions to appear; they could be described by a third-order system
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