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Convective turbulent viscosity acting on equilibrium tidal flows: new frequency scaling of the effective viscosity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Craig Duguid


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Turbulent convection is thought to act as an effective viscosity (νE) in damping tidal flows in stars and giant planets. However, the efficiency of this mechanism has long been debated, particularly in the regime of fast tides, when the tidal frequency (ω) exceeds the turnover frequency of the dominant convective eddies (ωc). We present the results of hydrodynamical simulations to study the interaction between tidal flows and convection in a small patch of a convection zone. These simulations build upon our prior work by simulating more turbulent convection in larger horizontal boxes, and here we explore a wider range of parameters. We obtain several new results: (1) νE is frequency dependent, scaling as ω−0.5 when ω/ωc ≲ 1, and appears to attain its maximum constant value only for very small frequencies (ω/ωc ≲ 10−2). This frequency reduction for low-frequency tidal forcing has never been observed previously. (2) The frequency dependence of νE appears to follow the same scaling as the frequency spectrum of the energy (or Reynolds stress) for low and intermediate frequencies. (3) For high frequencies (ω/ωc ≳ 1 − 5), νE ∝ ω−2. 4) The energetically dominant convective modes always appear to contribute the most to νE, rather than the resonant eddies in a Kolmogorov cascade. These results have important implications for tidal dissipation in convection zones of stars and planets, and indicate that the classical tidal theory of the equilibrium tide in stars and giant planets should be revisited. We briefly touch upon the implications for planetary orbital decay around evolving stars.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Duguid CD, Barker AJ, Jones CA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Year: 2020

Volume: 497

Issue: 3

Pages: 3400-3417

Print publication date: 01/09/2020

Online publication date: 28/07/2020

Acceptance date: 23/07/2020

ISSN (print): 0035-8711

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2966

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa2216


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