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Dynamo theories

  • François Rincon (a1) (a2)

Abstract

These lecture notes are based on a tutorial given in 2017 at a plasma physics winter school in Les Houches. Their aim is to provide a self-contained graduate-student level introduction to the theory and modelling of the dynamo effect in turbulent fluids and plasmas, blended with a review of current research in the field. The primary focus is on the physical and mathematical concepts underlying different (turbulent) branches of dynamo theory, with some astrophysical, geophysical and experimental contexts disseminated throughout the document. The text begins with an introduction to the rationale, observational and historical roots of the subject, and to the basic concepts of magnetohydrodynamics relevant to dynamo theory. The next two sections discuss the fundamental phenomenological and mathematical aspects of (linear and nonlinear) small- and large-scale magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) dynamos. These sections are complemented by an overview of a selection of current active research topics in the field, including the numerical modelling of the geo- and solar dynamos, shear dynamos driven by turbulence with zero net helicity and MHD-instability-driven dynamos such as the magnetorotational dynamo. The difficult problem of a unified, self-consistent statistical treatment of small- and large-scale dynamos at large magnetic Reynolds numbers is also discussed throughout the text. Finally, an excursion is made into the relatively new but increasingly popular realm of magnetic-field generation in weakly collisional plasmas. A short discussion of the outlook and challenges for the future of the field concludes the presentation.

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Corresponding author

Email address for correspondence: francois.rincon@irap.omp.eu

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Dynamo theories

  • François Rincon (a1) (a2)

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