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Magnetized fingering convection

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr William BĂ©thune.

Double-diffusive convection has been well studied in geophysical contexts, but detailed investigations of the regimes characteristic of stellar or planetary interiors have only recently become feasible. As most astrophysical fluids are electrically conducting, it is possible that magnetic fields play a role in either enhancing or suppressing double-diffusive convection, but to date there have been no numerical investigations of such possibilities. Here we study the effects of a vertical background magnetic field (aligned with the gravitational axis) on the linear stability and nonlinear saturation of fingering (thermohaline) convection, through a combination of theoretical work and direct numerical simulations. We find that a vertical magnetic field rigidifies the fingers along the vertical direction, which has the remarkable effect of enhancing vertical mixing. We propose a simple analytical model for mixing by magnetized fingering convection, and argue that magnetic effects may help explain discrepancies between theoretical and observed mixing rates in low-mass red giant branch stars. Other implications of our findings are also discussed.

This talk is part of the DAMTP Astrophysics Seminars series.

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