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Electrically driven vortices in a strong magnetic field

  • Joël Sommeria (a1)


A steady isolated vortex is produced in a horizontal layer of mercury (of thickness a), subjected to a uniform vertical magnetic field. The vortex is forced by an electric current going from an electrode in the lower plane to the circular outer frame. The flow is investigated by streak photographs of small particles following the free upper surface, and by electric potential measurements. The agreement with the asymptotic theory for high values of the Hartmann number M is excellent for moderate electric currents. In particular all the current stays in the thin Hartmann layer of thickness a/M, except in the vortex core of horizontal extension a/M½. For higher currents, the size of the core becomes larger and depends only on the local interaction parameters. When the current is switched off, we measure the decay due to the Hartmann friction. A similar study is carried out for a vortex created by an initial electric pulse, and for a pair of vortices of opposite sign. For all these examples, the dynamics can be described by the two-dimensional Navier-Stokes equations with Hartmann friction, except in the vortex cores. Finally a vortex is produced near a lateral wall and a detachment of the boundary layer parallel to the magnetic field occurs, by which a second vortex of opposite sign is generated.



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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
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