Alignment of the scalar gradient in evolving magnetic fields

Sharanya Sur, Liubin Pan, Evan Scannapieco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We conduct simulations of turbulent mixing in the presence of a magnetic field, grown by the small-scale dynamo. We show that the scalar gradient field, ∇C, which must be large for diffusion to operate, is strongly biased perpendicular to the magnetic field, B. This is true both early on, when the magnetic field is negligible, and at late times, when the field is strong enough to back react on the flow. This occurs because ∇C increases within the plane of a compressive motion, but B increases perpendicular to it. At late times, the magnetic field resists compression, making it harder for scalar gradients to grow and likely slowing mixing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL9
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2014


  • ISM: abundances
  • magnetic fields
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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