Conversion of internal gravity waves into magnetic waves

D. Lecoanet*, G. M. Vasil, J. Fuller, M. Cantiello, K. J. Burns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Asteroseismology probes the interiors of stars by studying oscillation modes at a star's surface. Although pulsation spectra are well understood for solar-like oscillators, a substantial fraction of red giant stars observed by Kepler exhibit abnormally low-amplitude dipole oscillation modes. Fuller et al. (2015) suggest this effect is produced by strong core magnetic fields that scatter dipole internal gravity waves (IGWs) into higher multipole IGWs or magnetic waves. In this paper, we study the interaction of IGWs with a magnetic field to test this mechanism. We consider two background stellar structures: one with a uniform magnetic field, and another with a magnetic field that varies both horizontally and vertically. We derive analytic solutions to the wave propagation problem and validate them with numerical simulations. In both cases, we find perfect conversion from IGWs into magnetic waves when the IGWs propagate into a region exceeding a critical magnetic field strength. Downward propagating IGWs cannot reflect into upward propagating IGWs because their vertical wavenumber never approaches zero. Instead, they are converted into upward propagating slow (Alfvénic) waves, and we show they will likely dissipate as they propagate back into weakly magnetized regions. Therefore, strong internal magnetic fields can produce dipole mode suppression in red giants, and gravity modes will likely be totally absent from the pulsation spectra of sufficiently magnetized stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2181-2193
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroseismology
  • Scattering
  • Stars: magnetic field
  • Waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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