Planetary Fluid Mechanics in the Lab


To understand the origin and dynamics of planetary magnetic fields, we need to understand the turbulent flow of the huge oceans of rotating, magnetized, low viscosity liquid metal that make up planets’ cores. The extreme Reynolds number, rapid rotation, and strong magnetic fields make planetary core turbulence impossible to fully understand with direct numerical simulation or laboratory experiments. We have constructed an enormous experimental magnetohydrodynamic flow facility at the University of Maryland to push further toward planetary parameters than ever before. I will present new results regarding turbulent state transitions, angular momentum transport, internal magnetic induction, and the effects of strong externally applied magnetic field in the turbulent flow of 13 tons of liquid sodium metal in a three meter diameter, rapidly rotating spherical Couette apparatus. We hope that these and future results can join the next generation of planetary core simulations to deepen our understanding of the fluid flow and magnetic field generation processes in planets.

Jul 9, 2013 3:30 PM — 4:30 PM
Bechtel Collaboratory, Discovery Learning Center
Engineering Center, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309

Nonlinear Dynamics Lab, University of Maryland, College Park