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Direct numerical simulation of forced MHD turbulence at low magnetic Reynolds number

  • OLEG ZIKANOV (a1) and ANDRE THESS (a1)

Abstract

The transformation of initially isotropic turbulent flow of electrically conducting incompressible viscous fluid under the influence of an imposed homogeneous magnetic field is investigated using direct numerical simulation. Under the assumption of large kinetic and small magnetic Reynolds numbers (magnetic Prandtl number Pm[Lt ]1) the quasi-static approximation is applied for the computation of the magnetic field fluctuations. The flow is assumed to be homogeneous and contained in a three-dimensional cubic box with periodic boundary conditions. Large-scale forcing is applied to maintain a statistically steady level of the flow energy. It is found that the pathway traversed by the flow transformation depends decisively on the magnetic interaction parameter (Stuart number). If the magnetic interaction number is small the flow remains three-dimensional and turbulent and no detectable deviation from isotropy is observed. In the case of a strong magnetic field (large magnetic interaction parameter) a rapid transformation to a purely two-dimensional steady state is obtained in agreement with earlier analytical and numerical results for decaying MHD turbulence. At intermediate values of the magnetic interaction parameter the system exhibits intermittent behaviour, characterized by organized quasi-two-dimensional evolution lasting several eddy-turnover times, which is interrupted by strong three-dimensional turbulent bursts. This result implies that the conventional picture of steady angular energy transfer in MHD turbulence must be refined. The spatial structure of the steady two-dimensional final flow obtained in the case of large magnetic interaction parameter is examined. It is found that due to the type of forcing and boundary conditions applied, this state always occurs in the form of a square periodic lattice of alternating vortices occupying the largest possible scale. The stability of this flow to three-dimensional perturbations is analysed using the energy stability method.

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