Publications

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As a Matter of Force — Systematic Biases in Idealized Turbulence Simulations
Many astrophysical systems encompass very large dynamical ranges in space and time, which are not accessible by direct numerical simulations. Thus, idealized subvolumes are often used to study small-scale effects including the dynamics of turbulence. These turbulent boxes require an artificial driving in order to mimic energy injection from large-scale processes. In this Letter, we show and quantify how the autocorrelation time of the driving and its normalization systematically change properties of an isothermal compressible magnetohydrodynamic flow in the sub- and supersonic regime and affect astrophysical observations such as Faraday rotation. For example, we find that δ-in-time forcing with a constant energy injection leads to a steeper slope in kinetic energy spectrum and less efficient small-scale dynamo action. In general, we show that shorter autocorrelation times require more power in the acceleration field, which results in more power in compressive modes that weaken the anticorrelation between density and magnetic field strength. Thus, derived observables, such as the line-of-sight magnetic field from rotation measures, are systematically biased by the driving mechanism. We argue that δ-in-time forcing is unrealistic and numerically unresolved, and conclude that special care needs to be taken in interpreting observational results based on the use of idealized simulations.
P. Grete, B. W. O'Shea, and K. Beckwith
2018 The Astrophysical Journal Letters 858, L19 10.3847/2041-8213/aac0f5
Energy transfer in compressible magnetohydrodynamic turbulence
Magnetic fields, compressibility and turbulence are important factors in many terrestrial and astrophysical processes. While energy dynamics, i.e. how energy is transferred within and between kinetic and magnetic reservoirs, has been previously studied in the context of incompressible magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence, we extend shell-to-shell energy transfer analysis to the compressible regime. We derive four new transfer functions specifically capturing compressibility effects in the kinetic and magnetic cascade, and capturing energy exchange via magnetic pressure. To illustrate their viability, we perform and analyze four simulations of driven isothermal MHD turbulence in the sub- and supersonic regime with two different codes. On the one hand, our analysis reveals robust characteristics across regime and numerical method. For example, energy transfer between individual scales is local and forward for both cascades with the magnetic cascade being stronger than the kinetic one. Magnetic tension and magnetic pressure related transfers are less local and weaker than the cascades. We find no evidence for significant nonlocal transfer. On the other hand, we show that certain functions, e.g., the compressive component of the magnetic energy cascade, exhibit a more complex behavior that varies both with regime and numerical method. Having established a basis for the analysis in the compressible regime, the method can now be applied to study a broader parameter space.
P. Grete, B. W. O'Shea, K. Beckwith, W. Schmidt and A. Christlieb
2017 Physics of Plasmas 24, 092311 10.1063/1.4990613
Featured article with accompanying Scilight
Comparative statistics of selected subgrid-scale models in large-eddy simulations of decaying, supersonic magnetohydrodynamic turbulence
Large-eddy simulations (LES) are a powerful tool in understanding processes that are inaccessible by direct simulations due to their complexity, for example, in the highly turbulent regime. However, their accuracy and success depends on a proper subgrid-scale (SGS) model that accounts for the unresolved scales in the simulation. We evaluate the applicability of two traditional SGS models, namely the eddy-viscosity (EV) and the scale-similarity (SS) models, and one recently proposed nonlinear (NL) SGS model in the realm of compressible magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence. Using 209 simulations of decaying, supersonic (initial sonic Mach number Ms≈3) MHD turbulence with a shock-capturing scheme and varying resolution, SGS model, and filter, we analyze the ensemble statistics of kinetic and magnetic energy spectra and structure functions. Furthermore, we compare the temporal evolution of lower- and higher-order statistical moments of the spatial distributions of kinetic and magnetic energy, vorticity, current density, and dilatation magnitudes. We find no statistical influence on the evolution of the flow by any model if grid-scale quantities are used to calculate SGS contributions. In addition, the SS models, which employ an explicit filter, have no impact in general. On the contrary, both the EV and NL models change the statistics if an explicit filter is used. For example, they slightly increase the dissipation on the smallest scales. We demonstrate that the nonlinear model improves higher-order statistics already with a small explicit filter, i.e., a three-point stencil. The results of, e.g., the structure functions or the skewness and kurtosis of the current density distribution are closer to the ones obtained from simulations at higher resolution. In addition, no additional regularization to stabilize the model is required. We conclude that the nonlinear model with a small explicit filter is suitable for application in more complex scenarios when higher-order statistics are important.
P. Grete, D. G. Vlaykov, W. Schmidt and D. R. G. Schleicher
2017 Phys. Rev. E 95, 033206 10.1103/PhysRevE.95.033206
A nonlinear structural subgrid-scale closure for compressible MHD. I. Derivation and energy dissipation properties
Compressible magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence is ubiquitous in astrophysical phenomena ranging from the intergalactic to the stellar scales. In studying them, numerical simulations are nearly inescapable, due to the large degree of nonlinearity involved. However, the dynamical ranges of these phenomena are much larger than what is computationally accessible. In large eddy simulations (LESs), the resulting limited resolution effects are addressed explicitly by introducing to the equations of motion additional terms associated with the unresolved, subgrid-scale dynamics. This renders the system unclosed. We derive a set of nonlinear structural closures for the ideal MHD LES equations with particular emphasis on the effects of compressibility. The closures are based on a gradient expansion of the finite-resolution operator [W. K. Yeo (CUP, 1993)] and require no assumptions about the nature of the flow or magnetic field. Thus, the scope of their applicability ranges from the sub- to the hyper-sonic and -Alfvénic regimes. The closures support spectral energy cascades both up and down-scale, as well as direct transfer between kinetic and magnetic resolved and unresolved energy budgets. They implicitly take into account the local geometry, and in particular, the anisotropy of the flow. Their properties are a priori validated in Paper II [P. Grete et al., Phys. Plasmas 23, 062317 (2016)] against alternative closures available in the literature with respect to a wide range of simulation data of homogeneous and isotropic turbulence.
D. G. Vlaykov, P. Grete, W. Schmidt and D. R. G. Schleicher
2016 Physics of Plasmas 23, 062317 10.1063/1.4954303
A nonlinear structural subgrid-scale closure for compressible MHD. II. A priori comparison on turbulence simulation data
Even though compressible plasma turbulence is encountered in many astrophysical phenomena, its effect is often not well understood. Furthermore, direct numerical simulations are typically not able to reach the extreme parameters of these processes. For this reason, large-eddy simulations (LES), which only simulate large and intermediate scales directly, are employed. The smallest, unresolved scales and the interactions between small and large scales are introduced by means of a subgrid-scale (SGS) model. We propose and verify a new set of nonlinear SGS closures for future application as an SGS model in LES of compressible magnetohydrodynamics. We use 15 simulations (without explicit SGS model) of forced, isotropic, homogeneous turbulence with varying sonic Mach number Ms=0.2–20 as reference data for the most extensive a priori tests performed so far in literature. In these tests, we explicitly filter the reference data and compare the performance of the new closures against the most widely tested closures. These include eddy-viscosity and scale-similarity type closures with different normalizations. Performance indicators are correlations with the turbulent energy and cross-helicity flux, the average SGS dissipation, the topological structure and the ability to reproduce the correct magnitude and the direction of the SGS vectors. We find that only the new nonlinear closures exhibit consistently high correlations (median value > 0.8) with the data over the entire parameter space and outperform the other closures in all tests. Moreover, we show that these results are independent of resolution and chosen filter scale. Additionally, the new closures are effectively coefficient-free with a deviation of less than 20%.
P. Grete, D. G. Vlaykov, W. Schmidt and D. R. G. Schleicher
2016 Physics of Plasmas 23, 062317 10.1063/1.4954304
Nonlinear closures for scale separation in supersonic magnetohydrodynamic turbulence
Turbulence in compressible plasma plays a key role in many areas of astrophysics and engineering. The extreme plasma parameters in these environments, e.g. high Reynolds numbers, supersonic and super-Alfvenic flows, however, make direct numerical simulations computationally intractable even for the simplest treatment — magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). To overcome this problem one can use subgrid-scale (SGS) closures—models for the influence of unresolved, subgrid-scales on the resolved ones. In this work we propose and validate a set of constant coefficient closures for the resolved, compressible, ideal MHD equations. The SGS energies are modeled by Smagorinsky-like equilibrium closures. The turbulent stresses and the electromotive force (EMF) are described by expressions that are nonlinear in terms of large scale velocity and magnetic field gradients. To verify the closures we conduct a priori tests over 137 simulation snapshots from two different codes with varying ratios of thermal to magnetic pressure (\(\beta_{\rm p}=0.25,1,2.5,5,25\)) and sonic Mach numbers ( \( M_{\rm s}=2,2.5,4 \) ). Furthermore, we make a comparison to traditional, phenomenological eddy-viscosity and \( \alpha -\beta -\gamma \) closures. We find only mediocre performance of the kinetic eddy-viscosity and \(\alpha -\beta -\gamma \) closures, and that the magnetic eddy-viscosity closure is poorly correlated with the simulation data. Moreover, three of five coefficients of the traditional closures exhibit a significant spread in values. In contrast, our new closures demonstrate consistently high correlations and constant coefficient values over time and over the wide range of parameters tested. Important aspects in compressible MHD turbulence such as the bi-directional energy cascade, turbulent magnetic pressure and proper alignment of the EMF are well described by our new closures.
P. Grete, D. G. Vlaykov, W. Schmidt, D. R. G. Schleicher and C. Federrath
2015 New J. Phys. 17, 023070 10.1088/1367-2630/17/2/023070