Journal Article

Numerical simulations of rotating axisymmetric sunspots

G. J. J. Botha, F. H. Busse, N. E. Hurlburt and A. M. Rucklidge

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 387, issue 4, pages 1445-1462
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Numerical simulations of rotating axisymmetric sunspots

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A numerical model of axisymmetric convection in the presence of a vertical magnetic flux bundle and rotation about the axis is presented. The model contains a compressible plasma described by the non-linear MHD equations, with density and temperature gradients simulating the upper layer of the Sun's convection zone. The solutions exhibit a central magnetic flux tube in a cylindrical numerical domain, with convection cells forming collar flows around the tube. When the numerical domain is rotated with a constant angular velocity, the plasma forms a Rankine vortex, with the plasma rotating as a rigid body where the magnetic field is strong, as in the flux tube, while experiencing sheared azimuthal flow in the surrounding convection cells, forming a free vortex. As a result, the azimuthal velocity component has its maximum value close to the outer edge of the flux tube. The azimuthal flow inside the magnetic flux tube and the vortex flow is prograde relative to the rotating cylindrical reference frame. A retrograde flow appears at the outer wall. The most significant convection cell outside the flux tube is the location for the maximum value of the azimuthal magnetic field component. The azimuthal flow and magnetic structure are not generated spontaneously, but decay exponentially in the absence of any imposed rotation of the cylindrical domain.

Keywords: convection; MHD; Sun: magnetic fields; sunspots

Journal Article.  13506 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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