Towards a hybrid dynamo model for the Milky Way
NORDITA, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm
2 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), an der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
Accepted: 21 October 2013
Context. Based on the rapidly increasing all-sky data of Faraday rotation measures and polarised synchrotron radiation, the Milky Way’s magnetic field can now be modelled with an unprecedented level of detail and complexity.
Aims. We aim to complement this phenomenological approach with a physically motivated, quantitative dynamo model – a model that moreover allows for the evolution of the system as a whole, instead of just solving the induction equation for a fixed static disc.
Methods. Building on the framework of mean-field magnetohydrodynamics and extending it to the realm of a hybrid evolution, we performed three-dimensional global simulations of the Galactic disc. To eliminate free parameters, closure coefficients embodying the mean-field dynamo were calibrated against resolved local simulations of supernova-driven interstellar turbulence.
Results. The emerging dynamo solutions comprise a mixture of the dominant axisymmetric S0 mode with even parity, and a subdominant A0 mode with odd parity. Notably, this superposition of modes creates a strong localised vertical field on one side of the Galactic disc. Moreover, we found significant radial pitch angles that decay with radius, which can be explained by flaring of the disc. In accordance with previous work, magnetic instabilities appear to be restricted to the calmer outer Galactic disc. Their main effect is to create strong fields at large radii such that the radial scale length of the magnetic field increases from 4 kpc (for a mean-field dynamo alone) to about 10 kpc in the hybrid models – the latter being in much better agreement with observations.
Conclusions. There remain aspects (e.g., spiral arms, X-shaped halo fields, fluctuating fields) that are not captured by the current model and that will require further development towards a fully dynamical evolution. Nevertheless, we demonstrate that a hybrid modelling of the Galactic dynamo is feasible and can serve as a foundation for future efforts.
Key words: dynamo / Galaxy: disk / Galaxy: evolution / magnetic fields / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
© ESO, 2013