Magnetohydrodynamics turbulence: An astronomical perspective
Early work on magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence in the 1960s due, independently, to Iroshnikov and Kraichnan (IK) considered isotropic inertial-range spectra. Whereas laboratory experiments were not in a position to measure the spectral index, they showed that the turbulence was strongly anisotropic. Theoretical horizons correspondingly expanded in the 1980s, to accommodate both the isotropy of the IK theory and the anisotropy suggested by the experiments. Since the discovery of pulsars in 1967, many years of work on interstellar scintillation suggested that small-scale interstellar turbulence must have a hydromagnetic origin; but the IK spectrum was too ﬂat and the ideas on anisotropic spectra too qualitative to explain the observations. In response, new theories of balanced MHD turbulence were proposed in the 1990s, which argued that the IK theory was incorrect, and made quantitative predictions of anisotropic inertial-range spectra; these theories have since found applications in many areas of astrophysics. Spacecraft measurements of solar-wind turbulence show that there is more power in Alfvén waves that travel away from the Sun than towards it. Theories of imbalanced MHD turbulence have now been proposed to address interplanetary turbulence. This very active area of research continues to be driven by astronomy.
Volume 94, 2019
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