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 the energy of any perturbation growing in the presence of magnetic field has to grow faster without the field. This is a paradox because the base flow is stable without the magnetic while it is unstable in the presence of a helical magnetic field without being modified by the latter 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 MRI with helical magnetic field indeed works in the inductionless limit where the destabilization effect appears as an effective shift of the Rayleigh line. 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 off the magnetic field instantly increases the energy growth rate, in the same time the critical perturbation ceases to be an eigenmode without the magnetic field. Consequently, this perturbation is transformed with time and so looses its ability to extract energy from the base flow necessary for the growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)