Bipolar region formation in stratified two-layer turbulence

J. Warnecke, I. R. Losada, A. Brandenburg, N. Kleeorin, I. Rogachevskii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Aims. This work presents an extensive study of the previously discovered formation of bipolar flux concentrations in a two-layer model. We interpret the formation process in terms of negative effective magnetic pressure instability (NEMPI), which is a possible mechanism to explain the origin of sunspots. Methods. In our simulations, we use a Cartesian domain of isothermal stratified gas that is divided into two layers. In the lower layer, turbulence is forced with transverse nonhelical random waves, whereas in the upper layer no flow is induced. A weak uniform magnetic field is imposed in the entire domain at all times. In most cases, it is horizontal, but a vertical and an inclined field are also considered. In this study we vary the stratification by changing the gravitational acceleration, magnetic Reynolds number, strength of the imposed magnetic field, and size of the domain to investigate their influence on the formation process. Results. Bipolar magnetic structure formation takes place over a large range of parameters. The magnetic structures become more intense for higher stratification until the density contrast becomes around 100 across the turbulent layer. For the fluid Reynolds numbers considered, magnetic flux concentrations are generated at magnetic Prandtl number between 0.1 and 1. The magnetic field in bipolar regions increases with higher imposed field strength until the field becomes comparable to the equipartition field strength of the turbulence. A larger horizontal extent enables the flux concentrations to become stronger and more coherent. The size of the bipolar structures turns out to be independent of the domain size. A small imposed horizontal field component is necessary to generate bipolar structures. In the case of bipolar region formation, we find an exponential growth of the large-scale magnetic field, which is indicative of a hydromagnetic instability. Additionally, the flux concentrations are correlated with strong large-scale downward and converging flows. These findings imply that NEMPI is responsible for magnetic flux concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA125
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • Starspots
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Sunspots
  • Turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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