Magnetic Helicity Conservation and Astrophysical Dynamos Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We construct a magnetic helicity conserving dynamo theory which incorporates a calculated magnetic helicity current. In this model the fluid helicity plays a small role in large scale magnetic field generation. Instead, the dynamo process is dominated by a new quantity, derived from asymmetries in the second derivative of the velocity correlation function, closely related to the `twist and fold' dynamo model. The turbulent damping term is, as expected, almost unchanged. Numerical simulations with a spatially constant fluid helicity and vanishing resistivity are not expected to generate large scale fields in equipartition with the turbulent energy density. The prospects for driving a fast dynamo under these circumstances are uncertain, but if it is possible, then the field must be largely force-free. On the other hand, there is an efficient analog to the $\alpha-\Omega$ dynamo. Systems whose turbulence is driven by some anisotropic local instability in a shearing flow, like real stars and accretion disks, and some computer simulations, may successfully drive the generation of strong large scale magnetic fields, provided that $\partial_r\Omega< \partial_\theta v_z\omega_\theta>>0$. We show that this criterion is usually satisfied. Such dynamos will include a persistent, spatially coherent vertical magnetic helicity current with the same sign as $-\partial_r\Omega$, that is, positive for an accretion disk and negative for the Sun. We comment on the role of random magnetic helicity currents in storing turbulent energy in a disordered magnetic field, which will generate an equipartition, disordered field in a turbulent medium, and also a declining long wavelength tail to the power spectrum. As a result, calculations of the galactic `seed' field are largely irrelevant.

publication date

  • April 2001