Rayleigh-Taylor Instability and Turbulence in the Presence of Magnetic Fields

Xin Bian, PhD Qualifying Exam, Advised by Professor Hussein Aluie

Thursday, January 23, 2020
11 a.m.

Hopeman 224

Turbulence is fluid motion that changes chaotically in both space and time. A turbulent flow consists of fluctuations or "eddies" at different length-scales and time-scales, and is often triggered by hydrodynamic instabilities. Our research focuses on one such instability, the Rayleigh-Taylor instability (RTI), and its transition to turbulence, which is important in many scientific and engineering fields like nuclear fusion and astrophysics. In these systems, magnetic fields can play a crucial role in the evolution of the system. We are carrying out a careful systematic study of the magnetic field influence on RTI growth, and on the energetic pathways in the ensuing turbulent flow. Our findings thus far have shown that despite its complex chaotic nature, the ergodicity of magnetic turbulence in fact leads to simplified dynamics in the form of new emergent conservation laws. Moreover, the RTI evolution is heavily dependent on vorticity generation and magnetic field strength. In this talk, I will discuss some of our published work on these topics along with preliminary results from ongoing research.