Magnetic Flux Concentrations in Stratified Turbulent Plasma Due to Negative Effective Magnetic Pressure Instability

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Sarah Jabbari1,2 and Axel Brandenburg1,2, (1)Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, (2)Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, Stockholm, Sweden
Recent studies have suggested a new mechanism that can be used to explain the formation of magnetic spots or bipolar regions in highly stratified turbulent plasmas. According to this model, a large-scale magnetic field suppresses the turbulent pressure, which leads to a negative contribution of turbulence to the effective magnetic pressure. Direct numerical simulations (DNS) have confirmed that the negative contribution is large enough so that the effective magnetic pressure becomes negative and leads to a large-scale instability, which we refer to as negative effective magnetic pressure Instability (NEMPI). NEMPI was used to explain the formation of active regions and sunspots on the solar surface.

One step toward improving this model was to combine dynamo in- stability with NEMPI. The dynamo is known to be responsible for the solar large-scale magnetic field and to play a role in solar activity. In this context, we studied stratified turbulent plasmas in spherical geometry, where the background field was generated by alpha squared dynamo. For NEMPI to be excited, the initial magnetic field should be in a proper range, so we used quenching function for alpha. Using the Pencil Code and mean field simulations (MFS), we showed that in the presence of dynamo-generated magnetic fields, we deal with a coupled system, where both instabilities, dynamo and NEMPI, work together and lead to the formation of magnetic structures (Jabbari et al. 2013).

We also studied a similar system in plane geometry in the presence of rotation and confirmed that for slow rotation NEMPI works, but as the Coriolis number increases, the rotation suppresses NEMPI. By increasing the Coriolis number even further, the combination of fast rotation and high stratification excites a dynamo, which leads again to a coupled system of dynamo and NEMPI (Jabbari et al. 2014).

Another important finding concerning NEMPI is the case where the instability is excited by a vertical magnetic field (Brandenburg et al. 2013). When the field is vertical, the resulting magnetic flux concentrations lead to the magnetic spots and can be of equipartition field strength. DNS, MFS, and implicit large eddy simulations (ILES) confirm that in a proper parameter regime, vertical imposed fields lead to the formation of circular magnetic spots (Brandenburg et al. 2014).