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TuDy : Turbulence et Dynamo dans les noyaux planétaires

par Henri-Claude NATAF - 28 juin 2013 ( dernière mise à jour : 18 juillet 2018 )

Two laboratory experiments DTS-Omega and ZoRo will shed some light on turbulence and dynamo processes in planetary cores.

Durée : 2013 - 2019

Financement : Agence Nationale de la Recherche

Coordinateur : Henri-Claude Nataf (ISTerre)

Equipes ISTerre impliquées :
- Géodynamo
- Ondes et Structures

Access the web site of the ANR TuDy.

Over the past decade, we have learnt a lot about the role of rotation in the generation of magnetic fields in planets and stars. Numerical convective dynamo simulations have played a major role in this revolution. Nevertheless, the organization of small-scale fluctuations remains out of reach of these simulations. If we try to build plausible scenarios of the cascade of kinetic and magnetic energies from the measured large-scales down, we see that classical ideas on magnetohydrodynamic turbulence would yield unrealistic estimates of viscous dissipation in the Earth’s core. We think that the resolution of this paradox lies in the strong role of rotation on the dissipation of the dynamo. To explore this idea, we propose a project organized around two Lab experiments, complemented and extended by numerical simulations.

The first experiment, called DTS-Omega, is devoted to the study of magnetostrophic turbulence. It is an extension of the DTS magnetized spherical Couette experiment and builds upon the unique expertise we have acquired in running liquid sodium experiments. Early runs of the DTS experiment suggest that turbulence is strongly reduced when both rotation and a magnetic field are present. The experiment we propose will allow a much deeper understanding of this phenomenon. It takes advantage of an experimental breakthrough we have prepared over the past year, which consists in an embarked electronic hardware DTSNum that allows the recording of more than 200 data channels at sampling rates up to 10kHz.

The second experiment, called ZoRo, is intended to shed light on the generation of zonal motions within convective planetary cores. New exciting ideas based upon the mixing of potential vorticity have emerged in the past years. However, they have been explored mostly in the context of thin layers, such as the atmospheres and oceans, at the surface of a sphere. The fact that zonal motions and quasi-geostrophic columns can extend all the way across the fluid layer in planetary cores modifies the picture. The experiment we propose is challenging, as we want to achieve strong enough convection and large enough rotation in order to form a large number of zonal bands. Measurements are far from trivial in such a situation, but we hope to get novel results, making use of a modified version of the DTSNum hardware.

Numerical simulations will help us link these two fundamental topics to the modelling of the geodynamo. In particular, we will extend the results of the ZoRo experiment by developing a hybrid quasi-geostrophic convective dynamo model.

Our project relies upon the expertise of a single partner : the geodynamo team of ISTerre. It will greatly benefit from the strong international collaborations we have established with several partners. The topic we investigate is very interdisciplinary, and our long-established contacts with colleagues from other communities (physics, fluid mechanics, astrophysics, engineering, etc) are essential.

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