Instabilities in magnetized spherical Couette flow

Christophe Gissinger, Hantao Ji, Jeremy Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


We report three-dimensional numerical simulations of the flow of an electrically conducting fluid in a spherical shell when a magnetic field is applied. Different spherical Couette configurations are investigated by varying the rotation ratio between the inner and the outer sphere, the geometry of the imposed field, and the magnetic boundary conditions on the inner sphere. Either a Stewartson layer or a Shercliff layer, accompanied by a radial jet, can be generated depending on the rotation speeds and the magnetic-field strength, and various nonaxisymmetric destabilizations of the flow are observed. We show that instabilities arising from the presence of boundaries present striking similarities with the magnetorotational instability (MRI). To this end, we compare our numerical results to experimental observations of the Maryland experiment, which claimed to observe MRI in a similar setup.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number026308
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 9 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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