Inductionless magnetorotational instability in a Taylor-Couette flow with a helical magnetic field

Janis Priede, Ilmars Grants, Gunter Gerbeth

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    30 Citations (Scopus)


    We consider the magnetorotational instability (MRI) of a hydrodynamically stable Taylor-Couette flow with a helical external magnetic field in the inductionless approximation defined by a zero magnetic Prandtl number (Pm=0). This leads to a considerable simplification of the problem eventually containing only hydrodynamic variables. First, we point out that magnetic field adds more dissipation while it does not change the base flow which is the only source of energy for growing perturbations. Thus, it seems unclear from the energetic point of view how such a hydrodynamically stable flow can turn unstable in the presence of a helical magnetic field as it has been found recently by Hollerbach and Rüdiger [Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 124501 (2005)]. We revisit this problem by using a Chebyshev collocation method to calculate the eigenvalue spectrum of the linearized problem. In this way, we confirm that a helical magnetic field can indeed destabilize the flow in the inductionless approximation. Second, we integrate the linearized equations in time to study the transient behavior of small amplitude perturbations, thus showing that the energy arguments are correct as well. However, there is no real contradiction between both facts. The linear stability theory predicts the asymptotic development of an arbitrary small-amplitude perturbation, while the energy stability theory yields the instant growth rate of any particular perturbation, but it does not account for the evolution of this perturbation. Thus, although switching on the magnetic field instantly increases the energy decay rate of the dominating hydrodynamic perturbation, in the same time this perturbation ceases to be an eigenmode in the presence of the magnetic field. Consequently, this perturbation is transformed with time and so becomes able to extract energy from the base flow necessary for the growth.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number047303
    JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physics and Astronomy(all)
    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
    • Mathematical Physics


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