Characterization of the magnetorotational instability from a turbulent background state

Daniel S. Zimmerman, Santiago A. Triana, Daniel R. Sisan, W. Andrew Tillotson, William Dorland, Daniel P. Lathrop

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Experiments in spherical Couette flow (flow between concentric rotating spheres) with an imposed magnetic field have yielded induced magnetic fields consistent with the magnetorotational instability. This might be expected due to the decreasing rotation rate profile in the base state. The observation is at odds though with existing theory, in that the base state has a significant turbulent component. We characterize the observed induced magnetic fields, as well as the velocity disturbance underlying the instability. The saturated state shows a variety of patterns and dynamics depending on applied magnetic field strength and rotation rate. The observed phase diagram is in qualitative agreement with linear stability theory. We also compare the observed stability diagram with that of MHD instabilities calculated by Hollerbach and Skinner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMHD Couette Flows
Subtitle of host publicationExperiments and Models
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)0735402159
StatePublished - Nov 12 2004
EventMHD Couette Flows: Experiments and Models - Acitrezza, Catania, Italy
Duration: Feb 29 2004Mar 2 2004

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


OtherMHD Couette Flows: Experiments and Models
CityAcitrezza, Catania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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