Observations of magnetic fields in the quiet Sun indicate that kilogauss-strength fields can be found in the intergranular lanes. Since the magnetic energy of these localised features greatly exceeds estimates of the kinetic energy of the surrounding granular convection, it is difficult to see how these features could be formed simply by convective flux concentration. Idealised, high-resolution simulations of three-dimensional compressible magnetoconvection are used to investigate the formation of these features numerically. Initially we take a fully developed non-magnetic convective state into which we insert a weak, uniform, vertical magnetic field. Magnetic flux is rapidly swept into the convective downflows, where it is concentrated into localised regions. As the field strength within these regions becomes dynamically significant, the high magnetic pressure leads to partial evacuation (via the convective downflows). Provided that the magnetic Reynolds number is large enough, the strength of the resulting magnetic fields significantly exceeds the (so called) “equipartition” value, with the dynamical effects of the surrounding convection playing an important role in confining these magnetic features to localised regions. These results can be related to the well-known convective collapse instability, although there are some important differences between the two models.
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