Parameter space mapping of the Princeton magnetorotational instability experiment

Himawan W. Winarto, Hantao Ji, Jeremy Goodman, Fatima Ebrahimi, Erik P. Gilson, Yin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Extensive simulations of the Princeton Magnetorotational Instability (MRI) Experiment with the Spectral/Finite Element code for Maxwell and Navier-Stokes Equations (SFEMaNS) have been performed to map the MRI-unstable region as a function of inner cylinder angular velocity and applied vertical magnetic field. The angular velocities of the outer cylinder and the end-cap rings follow the inner cylinder in fixed ratios optimized for MRI. We first confirm the exponential growth of the MRI linear phase using idealized conducting vertical boundaries (end caps) rotating differentially with a Taylor-Couette profile. Subsequently, we run a multitude of simulations to scan the experimental parameter space and find that the normalized volume-averaged mean-square radial magnetic field, our main instability indicator, rises significantly where MRI is expected. At various locations, the local radial components of fluid velocity and generated magnetic field are well correlated with the volume-averaged indicator. Based on this correlation, a diagnostic system that will measure the radial magnetic field at several locations on the inner cylinder is proposed as the main comparison between simulation and experiment. A detailed analysis of poloidal mode structures in the SFEMaNS code indicates that MRI, rather than Ekman circulation or Rayleigh instability, dominates the fluid behavior in the region where MRI is expected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number023113
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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