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Pinning of vortices by defects plays an important role in various physical (superconductivity, superfluidity, etc.) or biological (propagation in cardiac muscle) situations. Which defects act as pinning centers? We propose a way to study this general problem by using an advection field to quantify the attraction between an obstacle and a vortex. A full solution is obtained for the real Ginzburg-Landau equation (RGLE). Two pinning mechanisms are found in excitable media. Our results suggestdoi:10.1103/physrevlett.93.168303 pmid:15525042 fatcat:fr2ls4cvj5eejgvr623bv5qxpi