Multiple equilibria and transitions in spherical MHD equations

Saadet Özer, Taylan Şengül*, Quan Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we aim to describe the first dynamic transitions of the MHD equations in a thin spherical shell. It is well known that the MHD equations admit a motionless steady state solution with constant vertically aligned magnetic field and linearly conducted temperature. This basic solution is stable for small Rayleigh numbers R and loses its stability at a critical threshold Rc. There are two possible sources for this instability. Either a set of real eigenvalues or a set of non-real eigenvalues cross the imaginary axis at Rc. We restrict ourselves to the study of the first case. In this case, by the center manifold reduction, we reduce the full PDE to a system of 2lc+1 ODE's where lc is a positive integer. We exhibit the most general reduction equation regardless of lc. Then, it is shown that for lc =1.2, the system either exhibits a continuous transition accompanied by an attractor homeomorphic to 2lc dimensional sphere which contains steady states of the system or a drastic transition accompanied by a repeller bifurcated on R<Rc. We show that there are parameter regimes where both types of transitions are realized. Besides, several identities involving the triple products of gradients of spherical harmonics are derived, which are useful for the study of related problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1531-1555
Number of pages25
JournalCommunications in Mathematical Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 International Press.


Acknowledgments. The work of Quan Wang was supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (NSFC), Grant No. 11901408.

FundersFunder number
National Natural Science Foundation of China11901408


    • Dynamical transition theory
    • Linear stability
    • Magnetohydrodynamics convection
    • Principle of exchange of stabilities
    • Spherical harmonics


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