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Axel Brandenburg


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Hemispheric Handedness in the Galactic Synchrotron Polarization Foreground

    2020. Axel Brandenburg, Marcus Brüggen. Astrophysical Journal Letters 896 (1)


    The large-scale magnetic field of the Milky Way is thought to be created by an alpha omega dynamo, which implies that it should have opposite handedness north and south of the Galactic midplane. Here we attempt to detect a variation in handedness using polarization data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. Previous analyzes of the parity-even and parity-odd parts of linear polarization of the global dust and synchrotron emission have focused on quadratic correlations in spectral space of, and between, these two components. Here, by contrast, we analyze the parity-odd polarization itself and show that it has, on average, opposite signs in northern and southern Galactic hemispheres. Comparison with a Galactic mean-field dynamo model shows broad qualitative agreement and reveals that the sign of the observed hemispheric dependence of the azimuthally averaged parity-odd polarization is not determined by the sign of alpha, but by the sense of differential rotation.

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  • Reversed Dynamo at Small Scales and Large Magnetic Prandtl Number

    2019. Axel Brandenburg, Matthias Rempel. Astrophysical Journal 879 (1)


    We show that at large magnetic Prandtl numbers, the Lorentz force does work on the flow at small scales and drives fluid motions, whose energy is dissipated viscously. This situation is the opposite of that in a normal dynamo, where the flow does work against the Lorentz force. We compute the spectral conversion rates between kinetic and magnetic energies for several magnetic Prandtl numbers and show that normal (forward) dynamo action occurs on large scales over a progressively narrower range of wavenumbers as the magnetic Prandtl number is increased. At higher wavenumbers, reversed dynamo action occurs, i.e., magnetic energy is converted back into kinetic energy at small scales. We demonstrate this in both direct numerical simulations forced by volume stirring and in large eddy simulations (LESs) of solar convectively driven small-scale dynamos. Low-density plasmas such as stellar coronae tend to have large magnetic Prandtl numbers, i.e., the viscosity is large compared with the magnetic diffusivity. The regime in which viscous dissipation dominates over resistive dissipation for large magnetic Prandtl numbers was also previously found in LESs of the solar corona, i.e., our findings are a more fundamental property of MHD that is not just restricted to dynamos. Viscous energy dissipation is a consequence of positive Lorentz force work, which may partly correspond to particle acceleration in close-to-collisionless plasmas. This is, however, not modeled in the MHD approximation employed. By contrast, resistive energy dissipation on current sheets is expected to be unimportant in stellar coronae.

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  • Classes of Hydrodynamic and Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulent Decay

    2017. Axel Brandenburg, Tina Kahniashvili. Physical Review Letters 118 (5)


    We perform numerical simulations of decaying hydrodynamic and magnetohydrodynamic turbulence. We classify our time-dependent solutions by their evolutionary tracks in parametric plots between instantaneous scaling exponents. We find distinct classes of solutions evolving along specific trajectories toward points on a line of self-similar solutions. These trajectories are determined by the underlying physics governing individual cases, while the infrared slope of the initial conditions plays only a limited role. In the helical case, even for a scale-invariant initial spectrum (inversely proportional to wave number k), the solution evolves along the same trajectory as for a Batchelor spectrum (proportional to k(4)).

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  • Nonhelical Inverse Transfer of a Decaying Turbulent Magnetic Field

    2015. Axel Brandenburg, Tina Kahniashvili, Alexander G. Tevzadze. Physical Review Letters 114 (7)


    In the presence of magnetic helicity, inverse transfer from small to large scales is well known in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence and has applications in astrophysics, cosmology, and fusion plasmas. Using high resolution direct numerical simulations of magnetically dominated self-similarly decaying MHD turbulence, we report a similar inverse transfer even in the absence of magnetic helicity. We compute for the first time spectral energy transfer rates to show that this inverse transfer is about half as strong as with helicity, but in both cases the magnetic gain at large scales results from velocity at similar scales interacting with smaller-scale magnetic fields. This suggests that both inverse transfers are a consequence of universal mechanisms for magnetically dominated turbulence. Possible explanations include inverse cascading of the mean squared vector potential associated with local near two dimensionality and the shallower k(2) subinertial range spectrum of kinetic energy forcing the magnetic field with a k(4) subinertial range to attain larger-scale coherence. The inertial range shows a clear k(-2) spectrum and is the first example of fully isotropic magnetically dominated MHD turbulence exhibiting weak turbulence scaling.

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