Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Compressible magnetoconvection in three dimensions: pattern formation in a strongly stratified layer

A. M. RUCKLIDGE a1, N. O. WEISS a1, D. P. BROWNJOHN a1, P. C. MATTHEWS a1p1 and M. R. E. PROCTOR a1
a1 Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Silver Street, Cambridge, CB3 9EW, UK


The interaction between magnetic fields and convection is interesting both because of its astrophysical importance and because the nonlinear Lorentz force leads to an especially rich variety of behaviour. We present several sets of computational results for magnetoconvection in a square box, with periodic lateral boundary conditions, that show transitions from steady convection with an ordered planform through a regime with intermittent bursts to complicated spatiotemporal behaviour. The constraints imposed by the square lattice are relaxed as the aspect ratio is increased. In wide boxes we find a new regime, in which regions with strong fields are separated from regions with vigorous convection. We show also how considerations of symmetry and associated group theory can be used to explain the nature of these transitions and the sequence in which the relevant bifurcations occur.

(Received June 7 1999)
(Revised May 19 2000)

p1 Present address: School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.