Onset of plane magnetoconvection a low Ekman number

Alban Potherat, Kelig Aujogue, Binod Sreenivasan

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    We study the onset of magnetoconvection between two infinite horizontal planes subject to a vertical magnetic field aligned with background rotation. In order to gain insight into the convection taking place in the Earth’s tangent cylinder, we target regimes of asymptotically strong rotation. The critical Rayleigh number Rac and critical wavenumber ac are computed numerically by solving the linear stability problem in a systematic way, with either stress-free or no-slip kinematic boundary conditions. A parametric study is conducted, varying the Ekman number E (ratio of viscous to Coriolis forces) and the Elsasser number Λ (ratio of the Lorentz force to the Coriolis force). E is varied from 10−9 to 10−2 and Λ from 10−3 to 1. For a wide range of thermal and magnetic Prandtl numbers, our results verify and confirm previous experimental and theoretical results showing the existence of two distinct unstable modes at low values of E–one being controlled by the magnetic field, the other being controlled by viscosity (often called the viscous mode). It is shown that oscillatory onset does not occur in the range of parameters we are interested in. Asymptotic scalings for the onset of these modes are numerically confirmed and their domain of validity is precisely quantified. We show that with no-slip boundary conditions, the asymptotic behavior is reached for E < 10−6 and establish a map in the (E,Λ) plane. We distinguish regions where convection sets in either through the magnetic mode or through the viscous mode. Our analysis gives the regime in which the transition between magnetic and viscous modes may be observed. We also show that within the asymptotic regime, the role played by the kinematic boundary conditions is minimal.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number106602
    Number of pages15
    JournalPhysics of Fluids
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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