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Journal Articles Physical Review Letters Year : 2016

Fate of Alpha Dynamos at Large Rm


At the heart of today’s solar magnetic field evolution models lies the alpha dynamo description. In this work, we investigate the fate of alpha dynamos as the magnetic Reynolds number Rm is increased. Using Floquet theory, we are able to precisely quantify mean-field effects like the alpha and beta effect (i) by rigorously distinguishing dynamo modes that involve large-scale components from the ones that only involve small scales, and by (ii) providing a way to investigate arbitrary large-scale separations with minimal computational cost. We apply this framework to helical and nonhelical flows as well as to random flows with short correlation time. Our results determine that the alpha description is valid for Rm smaller than a critical value Rmc at which small-scale dynamo instability starts. When Rm is above Rmc, the dynamo ceases to follow the mean-field description and the growth rate of the large-scale modes becomes independent of the scale separation, while the energy in the large-scale modes is inversely proportional to the square of the scale separation. The results in this second regime do not depend on the presence of helicity. Thus, alpha-type modeling for solar and stellar models needs to be reevaluated and new directions for mean-field modeling are proposed.

Dates and versions

hal-01405736 , version 1 (30-11-2016)



Alexandre Cameron, Alexandros Alexakis. Fate of Alpha Dynamos at Large Rm. Physical Review Letters, 2016, 117 (20), pp.205101. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.205101⟩. ⟨hal-01405736⟩
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