Journal Article

Modulation and symmetry changes in stellar dynamos

E. Knobloch, S. M. Tobias and N. O. Weiss

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 297, issue 4, pages 1123-1138
Published in print July 1998 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 1998 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Modulation and symmetry changes in stellar dynamos

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Stellar dynamos are governed by non-linear partial differential equations (PDEs) which admit solutions with dipole, quadrupole or mixed symmetry (i.e. with different parities). These PDEs possess periodic solutions that describe magnetic cycles, and numerical studies reveal two different types of modulation. For modulations of Type 1 there are parity changes without significant changes of amplitude, while for Type 2 there are amplitude changes without significant changes in parity. In stars like the Sun, cyclic magnetic activity is interrupted by grand minima that correspond to Type 2 modulation. Although the Sun's magnetic field has maintained dipole symmetry for almost 300 yr, there was a significant parity change at the end of the Maunder Minimum. We infer that the solar field may have flipped from dipole to quadrupole polarity (and back) after deep minima in the past and may do so again in the future. Other stars, with different masses or rotation rates, may exhibit cyclic activity with dipole, quadrupole or mixed parity. The origins of such behaviour can be understood by relating the PDE results to solutions of appropriate low-order systems of ordinary differential equations (ODEs). Type 1 modulation is reproduced in a fourth-order system while Type 2 modulation occurs in a third-order system. Here we construct a new sixth-order system that describes both types of modulation and clarifies the interactions between symmetry-breaking and modulation of activity. Solutions of these non-linear ODEs reproduce the qualitative behaviour found for the PDEs, including flipping of polarity after a prolonged grand minimum. Thus we can be confident that these patterns of behaviour are robust, and will apply to stars that are similar to the Sun.

Keywords: chaos; MHD; Sun: magnetic fields; sunspots; stars: magnetic fields

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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