Large-scale dynamos in rapidly rotating plane layer convection

P. J. Bushby, P. J. Käpylä, Y. Masada, A. Brandenburg, B. Favier, C. Guervilly, M. J. Käpylä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
127 Downloads (Pure)


Context. Convectively driven flows play a crucial role in the dynamo processes that are responsible for producing magnetic activity in stars and planets. It is still not fully understood why many astrophysical magnetic fields have a significant large-scale component. Aims. Our aim is to investigate the dynamo properties of compressible convection in a rapidly rotating Cartesian domain, focusing upon a parameter regime in which the underlying hydrodynamic flow is known to be unstable to a large-scale vortex instability. Methods. The governing equations of three-dimensional non-linear magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) are solved numerically. Different numerical schemes are compared and we propose a possible benchmark case for other similar codes. Results. In keeping with previous related studies, we find that convection in this parameter regime can drive a large-scale dynamo. The components of the mean horizontal magnetic field oscillate, leading to a continuous overall rotation of the mean field. Whilst the large-scale vortex instability dominates the early evolution of the system, the large-scale vortex is suppressed by the magnetic field and makes a negligible contribution to the mean electromotive force that is responsible for driving the large-scale dynamo. The cycle period of the dynamo is comparable to the ohmic decay time, with longer cycles for dynamos in convective systems that are closer to onset. In these particular simulations, large-scale dynamo action is found only when vertical magnetic field boundary conditions are adopted at the upper and lower boundaries. Strongly modulated large-scale dynamos are found at higher Rayleigh numbers, with periods of reduced activity (grand minima-like events) occurring during transient phases in which the large-scale vortex temporarily re-establishes itself, before being suppressed again by the magnetic field.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA97
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Convection
  • Dynamo
  • Instabilities
  • Magnetic fields
  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • Methods: numerical
  • Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
  • Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
  • Physics - Fluid Dynamics


Dive into the research topics of 'Large-scale dynamos in rapidly rotating plane layer convection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this