Instabilities of conducting fluid layers in weak time-dependent magnetic fields
We present the experimental analysis of the instabilities generated on a large drop of liquid metal by a time-dependent magnetic field. The study is done exploring the range of tiny values of the control parameter (the ratio between the Lorentz forces and inertia) avoiding nonlinear effects. Two different instabilities break the symmetries generating spatial patterns that appear without a threshold for some specific frequencies (up to the experimental precision) and have been observed for parameter values two orders of magnitude lower than in previously published experiments [J. Fluid Mech. 239, 383 (1992)]. One of the instabilities corresponds to a boundary condition oscillation that generates surface waves and breaks the azimuthal symmetry. The other corresponds to a parametric forcing through a modulation of the Lorentz force. The competition between these two mechanisms produces time-dependent patterns near codimension-2 points.