We characterize experimentally how three dimensionality appears in wall-bounded magnetohydrodynamic flows. Our analysis of the breakdown of a square array of vortices in a cubic container singles out two mechanisms: first, a form of three dimensionality we call weak appears through differential rotation in individual 2D vortices. Second, strong three dimensionality characterized by vortex disruption leads on the one hand to a remarkable vortex array that is both steady and 3D, and, on the other hand, to scale-selective breakdown of two dimensionality in chaotic flows. Most importantly, these phenomena are entirely driven by inertia, so they are relevant to other flows with a tendency to two dimensionality, such as rotating, or stratified flows in geophysics and astrophysics.
Bibliographical note© 2010 American Physical Society
- three dimensionality
- wall-bounded magnetohydrodynamic flows