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Modes and instabilities in magnetized spherical Couette flow

Aldo Figueroa 1 Nathanaël Schaeffer 1 Henri-Claude Nataf 1 Denys Schmitt 1
1 Géodynamo [1997-2015]
ISTerre [2011-2015] - Institut des Sciences de la Terre [2011-2015]
Abstract : Several teams have reported peculiar frequency spectra for flows in a spherical shell. To address their origin, we perform numerical simulations of the spherical Couette flow in a dipolar magnetic field, in the configuration of the DTS experiment. The frequency spectra computed from time-series of the induced magnetic field display similar bumpy spectra, where each bump corresponds to a given azimuthal mode number m. The bumps show up at moderate Reynolds number (2 600) if the time-series are long enough (>300 rotations of the inner sphere). We present a new method that permits to retrieve the dominant frequencies for individual mode numbers m, and to extract the modal structure of the full non-linear flow. The maps of the energy of the fluctuations and the spatio-temporal evolution of the velocity field suggest that fluctuations originate in the outer boundary layer. The threshold of instability if found at Re_c = 1 860. The fluctuations result from two coupled instabilities: high latitude Bödewadt-type boundary layer instability, and secondary non-axisymmetric instability of a centripetal jet forming at the equator of the outer sphere. We explore the variation of the magnetic and kinetic energies with the input parameters, and show that a modified Elsasser number controls their evolution. We can thus compare with experimental determinations of these energies and find a good agreement. Because of the dipolar nature of the imposed magnetic field, the energy of magnetic fluctuations is much larger near the inner sphere, but their origin lies in velocity fluctuations that initiate in the outer boundary layer.
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Submitted on : Monday, November 5, 2012 - 6:22:30 PM
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Aldo Figueroa, Nathanaël Schaeffer, Henri-Claude Nataf, Denys Schmitt. Modes and instabilities in magnetized spherical Couette flow. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2013, 716, pp.445-469. ⟨10.1017/jfm.2012.551⟩. ⟨insu-00695391v3⟩



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