Problems and Progress in Astrophysical Dynamos

Lecture Notes in Physics 07/2002; DOI:10.1007/3-540-36238-X_14
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT Astrophysical objects with negligible resistivity are often threaded by large scale magnetic fields. The generation of these fields is somewhat mysterious, since a magnetic field in a perfectly conducting fluid cannot change the flux threading a fluid element, or the field topology. Classical dynamo theory evades this limit by assuming that magnetic reconnection is fast, even for vanishing resistivity, and that the large scale field can be generated by the action of kinetic helicity. Both these claims have been severely criticized, and the latter appears to conflict with strong theoretical arguments based on magnetic helicity conservation and a series of numerical simulations. Here we discuss recent efforts to explain fast magnetic reconnection through the topological effects of a weak stochastic magnetic field component. We also show how mean-field dynamo theory can be recast in a form which respects magnetic helicity conservation, and how this changes our understanding of astrophysical dynamos. Finally, we comment briefly on why an asymmetry between small scale magnetic and velocity fields is necessary for dynamo action, and how it can arise naturally.

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    ABSTRACT: We present numerical simulations of driven magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence with weak/moderate imposed magnetic fields. The main goal is to clarify dynamics of magnetic field growth. We also investigate the effects of the imposed magnetic fields on the MHD turbulence, including, as a limit, the case of zero external field. Our findings are as follows. First, when we start off simulations with weak mean magnetic field only (or with small scale random field with zero imposed field), we observe that there is a stage at which magnetic energy density grows linearly with time. Runs with different numerical resolutions and/or different simulation parameters show consistent results for the growth rate at the linear stage. Second, we find that, when the strength of the external field increases, the equilibrium kinetic energy density drops by roughly the product of the rms velocity and the strength of the external field. The equilibrium magnetic energy density rises by roughly the same amount. Third, when the external magnetic field is not very strong (say, less than ~0.2 times the rms velocity when measured in the units of Alfvén speed), the turbulence at large scales remains statistically isotropic, i.e., there is no apparent global anisotropy of order B 0/v. We discuss implications of our results on astrophysical fluids.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2009; 693(2):1449. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We analyze the kinematic dynamo in a conducting fluid where the stationary shear flow is accompanied by relatively weak random velocity fluctuations. The diffusionless and diffusion regimes are described. The growth rates of the magnetic field moments are related to the statistical characteristics of the flow describing the divergence of Lagrangian trajectories. A degree of anisotropy of the magnetic field is estimated. We demonstrate that Zeldovich's 'antidynamo theorem' is wrong.
    Journal of Physics A Mathematical and Theoretical 01/2010; 433530. · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We study the effects of turbulence on magnetic reconnection using 3D numerical simulations. This is the first attempt to test a model of fast magnetic reconnection in the presence of weak turbulence proposed by Lazarian & Vishniac (1999). This model predicts that weak turbulence, generically present in most of astrophysical systems, enhances the rate of reconnection by reducing the transverse scale for reconnection events and by allowing many independent flux reconnection events to occur simultaneously. As a result the reconnection speed becomes independent of Ohmic resistivity and is determined by the magnetic field wandering induced by turbulence. To quantify the reconnection speed we use both an intuitive definition, i.e. the speed of the reconnected flux inflow, as well as a more sophisticated definition based on a formally derived analytical expression. Our results confirm the predictions of the Lazarian & Vishniac model. In particular, we find that Vrec Pinj^(1/2), as predicted by the model. The dependence on the injection scale for some of our models is a bit weaker than expected, i.e. l^(3/4), compared to the predicted linear dependence on the injection scale, which may require some refinement of the model or may be due to the effects like finite size of the excitation region. The reconnection speed was found to depend on the expected rate of magnetic field wandering and not on the magnitude of the guide field. In our models, we see no dependence on the guide field when its strength is comparable to the reconnected component. More importantly, while in the absence of turbulence we successfully reproduce the Sweet-Parker scaling of reconnection, in the presence of turbulence we do not observe any dependence on Ohmic resistivity, confirming that our reconnection is fast. Comment: 22 pages, 20 figures
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2009; · 6.73 Impact Factor

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