Turbulent Compressible Convection with Rotation. II. Mean Flows and Differential Rotation
Abstract
The effects of rotation on turbulent, compressible convection within stellar envelopes are studied through threedimensional numerical simulations conducted within a local fplane model. This work seeks to understand the types of differential rotation that can be established in convective envelopes of stars like the Sun, for which recent helioseismic observations suggest an angular velocity profile with depth and latitude at variance with many theoretical predictions. This paper analyzes the mechanisms that are responsible for the mean (horizontally averaged) zonal and meridional flows that are produced by convection influenced by Coriolis forces. The compressible convection is considered for a range of Rayleigh, Taylor, and Prandtl (and thus Rossby) numbers encompassing both laminar and turbulent flow conditions under weak and strong rotational constraints.
When the nonlinearities are moderate, the effects of rotation on the resulting laminar cellular convection leads to distinctive tilts of the cell boundaries away from the vertical. These yield correlations between vertical and horizontal motions that generate Reynolds stresses that can drive mean flows, interpretable as differential rotation and meridional circulations. Under more vigorous forcing, the resulting turbulent convection involves complicated and contorted fluid particle trajectories, with few clear correlations between vertical and horizontal motions, punctuated by an evolving and intricate downflow network that can extend over much of the depth of the layer. Within such networks are some coherent structures of vortical downflow that tend to align with the rotation axis. These yield a novel turbulent alignment mechanism, distinct from the laminar tilting of cellular boundaries, that can provide the principal correlated motions and thus Reynolds stresses and subsequently mean flows. The emergence of such coherent structures that can persist amidst more random motions is a characteristic of turbulence with symmetries broken by rotation and stratification. Such structure is here found to play a crucial role in defining the mean zonal and meridional flows that coexist with the convection. Though they are subject to strong inertial oscillations, the strength and type of the mean flows are determined by a combination of the laminar tilting and the turbulent alignment mechanisms. Varying the parameters produces a wide range of mean motions. Among these, some turbulent solutions exhibit a mean zonal velocity profile that is nearly constant with depth, much as deduced by helioseismology at midlatitudes within the Sun. The solutions exhibit a definite handedness, with the direction of the persistent mean flows often prescribing a spiral with depth near the boundaries, also in accord with helioseismic deductions. The mean helicity has a profile that is positive in the upper portion of the domain and negative in the lower portion, a property bearing on magnetic dynamo processes that may be realized within such rotating layers of turbulent convection.
 Publication:

The Astrophysical Journal
 Pub Date:
 January 1998
 DOI:
 10.1086/305137
 Bibcode:
 1998ApJ...493..955B
 Keywords:

 CONVECTION;
 STARS: INTERIORS;
 STARS: ROTATION;
 SUN: ROTATION;
 TURBULENCE;
 Convection;
 Stars: Interiors;
 Stars: Rotation;
 Sun: Rotation;
 Turbulence