Zonal Flow Velocimetry using Acoustic Modes in Experimental Models of a Planetary Core
Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Rotating hydromagnetic experiments can serve as models of planetary cores, matching some of the dimensionless parameters relevant to planets. One challenge with such experiments is determining the flows present. The opacity of the fluids used in these experiments (e.g. liquid sodium) prevents direct flow visualization techniques from being employed. One method allowing determination of zonal flows in such experiments is acoustic mode velocimetry. In this technique, the rotational splittings of acoustic mode spectra are used to infer the azimuthal velocity profile of the flow. Here we present the use of this technique to study flows in experimental models of the Earth's core. Most of these results were obtained in a 60 cm diameter spherical Couette device, with a 20 cm diameter inner sphere, and using nitrogen gas as the working fluid. Turbulent flow is driven in the system via differential rotation of the outer shell and inner sphere. Acoustic modes are excited in the fluid volume using a speaker, and microphones are used to measure the frequencies and rotational splittings of the modes. We compare the observed splittings with those predicted by theory as a way of validating the method, and infer mean flows from these observations. We also present some preliminary results of acoustic studies in the 3 m diameter liquid sodium spherical Couette experiment. Finally, we discuss future prospects for this experimental technique.