A model of nonlinear evolution and saturation of the turbulent MHD dynamo

A. A. Schekochihin, S. C. Cowley, G. W. Hammett, J. L. Maron, J. C. McWilliams

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75 Scopus citations


The growth and saturation of magnetic field in conducting turbulent media with large magnetic Prandtl numbers are investigated. This regime is very common in low-density hot astrophysical plasmas. During the early (kinematic) stage, weak magnetic fluctuations grow exponentially and concentrate at the resistive scale, which lies far below the hydrodynamic viscous scale. The evolution becomes nonlinear when the magnetic energy is comparable to the kinetic energy of the viscous-scale eddies. A physical picture of the ensuing nonlinear evolution of the MHD dynamo is proposed. Phenomenological considerations are supplemented with a simple Fokker-Planck model of the nonlinear evolution of the magnetic-energy spectrum. It is found that, while the shift of the bulk of the magnetic energy from the subviscous scales to the velocity scales may be possible, it occurs very slowly - at the resistive, rather than dynamical, timescale (for galaxies, this means that the generation of large-scale magnetic fields cannot be explained by this mechanism). The role of Alfvénic motions and the implications for the fully developed isotropic MHD turbulence are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84.1-84.22
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Oct 30 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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