Energy Conservation and Gravity Waves in Sound-proof Treatments of Stellar Interiors. Part I. Anelastic Approximations
The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 756, Issue 2, article id. 109, 20 pp. (2012).
Published in Sep 2012
Typical flows in stellar interiors are much slower than the speed of sound. To follow the slow evolution of subsonic motions, various sound-proof equations are in wide use, particularly in stellar astrophysical fluid dynamics. These low-Mach number equations include the anelastic equations. Generally, these equations are valid in nearly adiabatically stratified regions like stellar convection zones, but may not be valid in the sub-adiabatic, stably stratified stellar radiative interiors. Understanding the coupling between the convection zone and the radiative interior is a problem of crucial interest and may have strong implications for solar and stellar dynamo theories as the interface between the two, called the tachocline in the Sun, plays a crucial role in many solar dynamo theories. Here, we study the properties of gravity waves in stably stratified atmospheres. In particular, we explore how gravity waves are handled in various sound-proof equations. We find that some anelastic treatments fail to conserve energy in stably stratified atmospheres, instead conserving pseudo-energies that depend on the stratification, and we demonstrate this numerically. One anelastic equation set does conserve energy in all atmospheres and we provide recommendations for converting low-Mach number anelastic codes to this set of equations.
Sun: interior; stars: interiors
Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics; Physics - Fluid Dynamics