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Critical Magnetic Prandtl Number for Small-Scale Dynamo

  • Schekochihin, A. A.
  • Cowley, S. C.
  • Maron, J. L.
  • McWilliams, J. C.
Published Article
Publication Date
Feb 04, 2004
Submission Date
Aug 19, 2003
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.92.054502
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We report a series of numerical simulations showing that the critical magnetic Reynolds number Rm_c for the nonhelical small-scale dynamo depends on the Reynolds number Re. Namely, the dynamo is shut down if the magnetic Prandtl number Pr=Rm/Re is less than some critical value Pr_c<1 even for Rm for which dynamo exists at Pr>=1. We argue that, in the limit of Re->infinity, a finite Pr_c may exist. The second possibility is that Pr_c->0 as Re->infinity, while Rm_c tends to a very large constant value inaccessible at current resolutions. If there is a finite Pr_c, the dynamo is sustainable only if magnetic fields can exist at scales smaller than the flow scale, i.e., it is always effectively a large-Pr dynamo. If there is a finite Rm_c, our results provide a lower bound: Rm_c<220 for Pr<=1/8. This is larger than Rm in many planets and in all liquid-metal experiments.

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