Mesogranulation and small-scale dynamo action in the quiet Sun
1 School of Mathematics and Statistics, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
2 DAMTP, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge University, Cambridge, CB3 0WA, UK
Received: 6 November 2013
Accepted: 16 January 2014
Context. Regions of quiet Sun generally exhibit a complex distribution of small-scale magnetic field structures, which interact with the near-surface turbulent convective motions. Furthermore, it is probable that some of these magnetic fields are generated locally by a convective dynamo mechanism. In addition to the well-known granular and supergranular convective scales, various observations have indicated that there is an intermediate scale of convection, known as mesogranulation, with vertical magnetic flux concentrations accumulating preferentially at the boundaries of mesogranules.
Aims. Our aim is to investigate the small-scale dynamo properties of a convective flow that exhibits both granulation and mesogranulation, comparing our findings with solar observations.
Methods. Adopting an idealised model for a localised region of quiet Sun, we use numerical simulations of compressible magnetohydrodynamics, in a three-dimensional Cartesian domain, to investigate the parametric dependence of this system (focusing particularly upon the effects of varying the aspect ratio and the Reynolds number).
Results. In purely hydrodynamic convection, we find that mesogranulation is a robust feature of this system provided that the domain is wide enough to accommodate these large-scale motions. The mesogranular peak in the kinetic energy spectrum is more pronounced in the higher Reynolds number simulations. We investigate the dynamo properties of this system in both the kinematic and the nonlinear regimes and we find that the dynamo is always more efficient in larger domains, when mesogranulation is present. Furthermore, we use a filtering technique in Fourier space to demonstrate that it is indeed the larger scales of motion that are primarily responsible for driving the dynamo. In the nonlinear regime, the magnetic field distribution compares very favourably to observations, both in terms of the spatial distribution and the measured field strengths.
Key words: convection / dynamo / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / Sun: granulation / Sun: magnetic fields
© ESO, 2014