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Metals 2015, 5(1), 289-335;

Canonical Models of Geophysical and Astrophysical Flows: Turbulent Convection Experiments in Liquid Metals

Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Laboratoire de Physique, École Normale Supérieure, Lyon 69007, France
Department of Mathematics, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Enrique Louis
Received: 25 July 2014 / Revised: 2 September 2014 / Accepted: 9 February 2015 / Published: 9 March 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Liquid Metals)
Full-Text   |   PDF [13108 KB, uploaded 9 March 2015]


Planets and stars are often capable of generating their own magnetic fields. This occurs through dynamo processes occurring via turbulent convective stirring of their respective molten metal-rich cores and plasma-based convection zones. Present-day numerical models of planetary and stellar dynamo action are not carried out using fluids properties that mimic the essential properties of liquid metals and plasmas (e.g., using fluids with thermal Prandtl numbers Pr < 1 and magnetic Prandtl numbers Pm ≪ 1). Metal dynamo simulations should become possible, though, within the next decade. In order then to understand the turbulent convection phenomena occurring in geophysical or astrophysical fluids and next-generation numerical models thereof, we present here canonical, end-member examples of thermally-driven convection in liquid gallium, first with no magnetic field or rotation present, then with the inclusion of a background magnetic field and then in a rotating system (without an imposed magnetic field). In doing so, we demonstrate the essential behaviors of convecting liquid metals that are necessary for building, as well as benchmarking, accurate, robust models of magnetohydrodynamic processes in Pm ≪ Pr < 1 geophysical and astrophysical systems. Our study results also show strong agreement between laboratory and numerical experiments, demonstrating that high resolution numerical simulations can be made capable of modeling the liquid metal convective turbulence needed in accurate next-generation dynamo models. View Full-Text
Keywords: convection; turbulence; magnetohydrodynamics; geophysics; astrophysics; liquid metals; gallium convection; turbulence; magnetohydrodynamics; geophysics; astrophysics; liquid metals; gallium
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Ribeiro, A.; Fabre, G.; Guermond, J.-L.; Aurnou, J.M. Canonical Models of Geophysical and Astrophysical Flows: Turbulent Convection Experiments in Liquid Metals. Metals 2015, 5, 289-335.

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