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Driving Solar Giant Cells through the Self-organization of Near-surface Plumes

TitleDriving Solar Giant Cells through the Self-organization of Near-surface Plumes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsNelson, NJ, Featherstone, NA, Miesch, MS, Toomre, J
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Date Published2018-05
Keywordsconvection methods, turbulence

Global 3D simulations of solar giant-cell convection have provided significant insight into the processes which yield the Sun's observed differential rotation and cyclic dynamo action. However, as we move to higher-resolution simulations a variety of codes have encountered what has been termed the convection conundrum. As these simulations increase in resolution and hence the level of turbulence achieved, they tend to produce weak or even anti-solar differential rotation patterns associated with a weak rotational influence (high Rossby number) due to large convective velocities. One potential culprit for this convection conundrum is the upper boundary condition applied in most simulations, which is generally impenetrable. Here we present an alternative stochastic plume boundary condition which imposes small-scale convective plumes designed to mimic near-surface convective downflows, thus allowing convection to carry the majority of the outward solar energy flux up to and through our simulated upper boundary. The use of a plume boundary condition leads to significant changes in the convective driving realized in the simulated domain and thus to the convective energy transport, the dominant scale of the convective enthalpy flux, and the relative strength of the strongest downflows, the downflow network, and the convective upflows. These changes are present even far from the upper boundary layer. Additionally, we demonstrate that, in spite of significant changes, giant cell morphology in the convective patterns is still achieved with self-organization of the imposed boundary plumes into downflow lanes, cellular patterns, and even rotationally aligned banana cells in equatorial regions. This plume boundary presents an alternative pathway for 3D global convection simulations where driving is non-local and may provide a new approach toward addressing the convection conundrum.


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