STELLAR DYNAMOS AND CYCLES FROM NUMERICAL SIMULATIONS OF CONVECTION

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  • The Astrophysical Journal, 775:69 (13pp), 2013 September 20 doi:10.1088/0004-637X/775/1/69C 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.

    STELLAR DYNAMOS AND CYCLES FROM NUMERICAL SIMULATIONS OF CONVECTION

    Caroline Dube and Paul CharbonneauDepartement de Physique, Universite de Montreal, C.P. 6128 Succ. Centre-ville, Montreal,

    QC H3C 3J7, Canada; dube@astro.umontreal.ca, paulchar@astro.umontreal.caReceived 2013 May 22; accepted 2013 July 30; published 2013 September 5

    ABSTRACTWe present a series of kinematic axisymmetric mean-field dynamo models applicable to solar-type stars, for20 distinct combinations of rotation rates and luminosities. The internal differential rotation and kinetic helicityprofiles required to calculate source terms in these dynamo models are extracted from a corresponding series ofglobal three-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations of solar/stellar convection, so that the resulting dynamomodels end up involving only one free parameter, namely, the turbulent magnetic diffusivity in the convectinglayers. Even though the dynamo solutions exhibit a broad range of morphologies, and sometimes even doublecycles, these models manage to reproduce relatively well the observationally inferred relationship between cycleperiod and rotation rate. On the other hand, they fail in capturing the observed increase of magnetic activity levelswith rotation rate. This failure is due to our use of a simple algebraic -quenching formula as the sole amplitude-limiting nonlinearity. This suggests that -quenching is not the primary mechanism setting the amplitude of stellarmagnetic cycles, with magnetic reaction on large-scale flows emerging as the more likely candidate. This inferenceis coherent with analyses of various recent global magnetohydrodynamical simulations of solar/stellar convection.Key words: convection dynamo magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) stars: activity stars: magnetic fieldOnline-only material: color figures

    1. INTRODUCTION

    For well over a century now, the Sun has stood as the prototyp-ical star of astrophysics, serving as the benchmark for theoriesof stellar structure, evolution, seismology, and, more recently,magnetic activity. Evidence for solar-like magnetically drivenradiative emission and flare-like eruptive events is detected in es-sentially all lower main-sequence stars observed with sufficientsensitivity (for a review see Hall 2008). In particular, outstand-ing data on cyclic magnetic activity have been obtained from aremarkable survey, begun half a century ago at Mount Wilsonobservatory, of chromospheric emission in the core of the H andK spectral lines of calcium in a sample of nearby, solar-typestars (Wilson 1978; see also Baliunas et al. 1995; Saar 2011).Analyses of these data (Noyes et al. 1984a, 1984b) have ledto the determination of various empirical relationships linkingfundamental stellar parameters such as mass, luminosity, androtation periods (Prot, or frequency 0 = 2/Prot) to cycle pe-riods (Pcyc, or frequency cyc = 2/Pcyc), mean chromosphericHK flux ratio (RHK), and more recently X-ray-to-bolometricluminosity ratio (RX). These last two quantities are usually takenas proxy of the overall strength of surface magnetism. Interest-ingly, the tightest relationships typically result from correlatingcycle characteristics to the Rossby number Ro = Prot/c, wherec is the convective turnover time. Using mixing-length theory ofconvection to estimate c, Noyes et al. (1984a) could show thatRHK decreases with increasing Ro, and Noyes et al. (1984b)obtained a well-defined power-law relation Pcyc (Prot/c)1.25for a sample of 13 slowly rotating lower main-sequence starswith well-defined regular cycles.

    Later analyses of observational data have refined (and com-plexified) this picture. For example, Saar & Brandenburg (1999)showed that stars older than 0.1 Gyr respect the relationcyc/0 Ro0.5, but on two quasi-parallel branches sepa-rated by a factor of six in Pcyc (see their Figure 5). Rapidlyrotating stars, with a rotation period smaller than three days,

    tend to occupy a third branch with cyc/0 Ro0.4. These au-thors also show that RHK increases with Ro1 and that cyc/0decreases when 0 increases. Baliunas et al. (1996) and Olahet al. (2009) report a similar positive correlation between theratio Pcyc/Prot and P1rot . Pizzolato et al. (2003) present a rela-tion between RX and an empirical Rossby number obtained fordifferent stellar masses. RX is constant for Ro 0.1 (saturatedregime) and decreases when Ro increases for Ro 0.1 (un-saturated regime). Finally, Wright et al. (2011) showed that RXis constant at 3.13 0.08 for Ro 0.13 and then decreasesaccording to the relation RX Ro , where = 2.55 0.15.They used the same empirical Rossby number as in Pizzolatoet al. (2003), but for a larger sample of 824 stars.

    The link between stellar cycle properties and the Rossbynumber is believed to arise as a consequence of the fact that thelatter measures the influence of rotation on convective flows,and in particular the degree of cyclonicity imparted by theCoriolis force on convection. This cyclonicity, in turn, is anessential aspect of the regenerative process powering solar andstellar dynamos, as it can provide the mean electromotive force(emf) necessary to regenerate the large-scale poloidal magneticcomponent (Parker 1955), and in doing so circumvent Cowlingstheorem. In kinematic mean-field stellar dynamo models relyingin this manner on the turbulent emf, a relationship between cycleproperties and Ro is thus expected.

    Many conceptual difficulties soon arise in attempting toconfront quantitatively stellar cycle observations to dynamomodels. Even in the case of the Sun, no consensus currentlyexists as to the exact nature of the dynamo mechanism poweringthe solar cycle and setting its period. Mean-field models relyingon the turbulent emf are still alive and well, but appealingalternatives known as flux-transport dynamos, where the cycleperiod is set primarily by the speed of the meridional flowpervading the solar convection zone, have also been shown tocompare favorably to observations. For a comprehensive reviewof these (and other) classes of solar dynamo models, see, e.g.,

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  • The Astrophysical Journal, 775:69 (13pp), 2013 September 20 Dube & Charbonneau

    Charbonneau (2010). Moreover, an essential ingredient in allthese dynamo models is the internal differential rotation, whichis responsible for generating the toroidal magnetic component.Helioseismology has provided good measurements of the solarinternal differential rotation (e.g., Howe 2009 and referencestherein), but for stars other than the Sun only the surface(latitudinal) differential rotation has been determined in a fewstars, from either Doppler imaging (e.g., Barnes et al. 2005)or photometric measurements of light-curve variations dueto starspots. These observational determinations have yieldedmixed conclusions, with the latitudinal differential rotation() showing no significant dependency on rotation rate,while other analyses suggest a non-monotonic dependency onthe Rossby number (for a concise, critical review, see Saar2011). Theoretical models of internal differential rotations (e.g.,Kitchatinov & Rudiger 1999) and numerical simulations ofsolar/stellar convection (e.g., Ballot et al. 2007; Brown et al.2008) have also yielded conflicting results, with the magnitudeof differential rotation showing no significant dependence onrotation rate in the former case, and a significant increase withrotation in the latter.

    Not surprisingly, attempts to model stellar cycles using dy-namo models can lead to a wide variety of results, dependingon the assumptions made regarding the dependence of differ-ential rotation, meridional flow, and cyclonicity of convectionon stellar parameters such as rotation rate, mass, and luminos-ity (see, e.g., Baliunas et al. 1996; Charbonneau & Saar 2001;Nandy & Martens 2007; Jouve et al. 2010). The choice of anamplitude-limiting nonlinearity in the dynamo models also hasa significant impact (Tobias 1998). We adopt here the generalstrategy already introduced by Jouve et al. (2010), which is to usehydrodynamical (HD) simulations of stellar convection to pro-duce large-scale flow profiles that are then used as input to kine-matic mean-field dynamo models. Jouve et al. (2010) carriedout their dynamo analysis in the context of BabcockLeightonflux-transport models, and so had to further specify a surfacesource term for their dynamo model. In contrast, here we cap-italize on a remarkable result obtained by Racine et al. (2011).Working off a global magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) simula-tion of the Sun producing a large-scale magnetic componentundergoing regular polarity reversals (see also Ghizaru et al.2010), these authors could fit the turbulent emf extracted fromthe simulation to the large-scale magnetic component, and indoing so compute the full -tensor linking these two quantities.The tensor component, the sole poloidal source term in theclassical mean-field model (more on this in Section 3 be-low), was found to closely resemble the expression predicted bythe so-called second-order correlation approximation (SOCA),which predicts h , where h = u u is the meankinetic helicity of the small-scale flow component. This goodagreement is surprising because their simulations operate in aparameter regime outside of the nominal range of validity of theSOCA approximation. Since the mean kinetic helicity can beextracted from HD simulations, it becomes possible to constructa mean-field dynamo model where all large-scale flows andsource terms can be computed directly from the simulation.

    The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. In thenext section we briefly introduce the global HD simulationsused as input into our mean-field dynamo models, a briefdescription of