The role of boundaries in the magnetorotational instability

Christophe Gissinger, Jeremy Goodman, Hantao Ji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


In this paper, we investigate numerically the flow of an electrically conducting fluid in a cylindrical Taylor-Couette flow when an axial magnetic field is applied. To minimize Ekman recirculation due to vertical no-slip boundaries, two independently rotating rings are used at the vertical endcaps. This configuration reproduces setup used in laboratory experiments aiming to observe the magnetorotational instability (MRI). Our 3D global simulations show that the nature of the bifurcation, the non-linear saturationthe structure of axisymmetric MRI modes are significantly affected by the presence of boundaries. In addition, large scale non-axisymmetric modes are obtained when the applied field is sufficiently strong. We show that these modes are related to Kelvin-Helmholtz destabilization of a free Shercliff shear layer created by the combined action of the applied field and the rotating rings at the endcaps. Finally, we compare our numerical simulations to recent experimental results obtained in the Princeton MRI experiment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number074109
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 10 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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