TY - JOUR

T1 - Theory and simulations of rotating convection

AU - Barker, Adrian J.

AU - Dempsey, Adam M.

AU - Lithwick, Yoram

N1 - Copyright:
Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

PY - 2014/8/10

Y1 - 2014/8/10

N2 - We study thermal convection in a rotating fluid in order to better understand the properties of convection zones in rotating stars and planets. We first derive a mixing-length theory for rapidly rotating convection, arriving at the results of Stevenson via simple physical arguments. The theory predicts the properties of convection as a function of the imposed heat flux and rotation rate, independent of microscopic diffusivities. In particular, it predicts the mean temperature gradient, the rms velocity and temperature fluctuations, and the size of the eddies that dominate heat transport. We test all of these predictions with high resolution three-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations of Boussinesq convection in a Cartesian box. The results agree remarkably well with the theory across more than two orders of magnitude in rotation rate. For example, the temperature gradient is predicted to scale as the rotation rate to the four-fifths power at fixed flux, and the simulations yield 0.75 ± 0.06. We conclude that the mixing-length theory is a solid foundation for understanding the properties of convection zones in rotating stars and planets.

AB - We study thermal convection in a rotating fluid in order to better understand the properties of convection zones in rotating stars and planets. We first derive a mixing-length theory for rapidly rotating convection, arriving at the results of Stevenson via simple physical arguments. The theory predicts the properties of convection as a function of the imposed heat flux and rotation rate, independent of microscopic diffusivities. In particular, it predicts the mean temperature gradient, the rms velocity and temperature fluctuations, and the size of the eddies that dominate heat transport. We test all of these predictions with high resolution three-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations of Boussinesq convection in a Cartesian box. The results agree remarkably well with the theory across more than two orders of magnitude in rotation rate. For example, the temperature gradient is predicted to scale as the rotation rate to the four-fifths power at fixed flux, and the simulations yield 0.75 ± 0.06. We conclude that the mixing-length theory is a solid foundation for understanding the properties of convection zones in rotating stars and planets.

KW - convection - hydrodynamics - stars

KW - interiors - stars

KW - rotation - turbulence

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U2 - 10.1088/0004-637X/791/1/13

DO - 10.1088/0004-637X/791/1/13

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84905179940

VL - 791

JO - Astrophysical Journal

JF - Astrophysical Journal

SN - 0004-637X

IS - 1

M1 - 13

ER -