Astrophysical fluid dynamics concerns the motion of electrically conducting flows in the presence of magnetic fields. Such flows interacting with magnetic fields exist throughout the universe. A widely studied example is the evolution of the Sun’s magnetic field, which is known to follow a 22-year cycle. Solar plasma can be ejected into space, travelling towards the Earth as the solar wind, and ultimately interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field to produce geomagnetic storms and aurora. Key to understanding the behaviour, and a variety of other magnetically driven astrophysical phenomena, lies in understanding how magnetic fields and electrically conducting flows interact.
The traditional applied mathematics approach is to study simplified models that isolate a particular physical process and allow its in-depth investigation. Through a step-by-step approach more sophisticated models are then built. In this vein, the PhD student will build mathematical models of varying complexities to study the interaction and instabilities of magnetic fields and electrically conducting shear flows in the presence of gravity and rotation. This will involve the study of nonlinear partial differential equations that govern the fluid velocity and the magnetic field. These will be solved using a combination of analytical and computational techniques. The student should have a strong background in applied mathematics or a related field and a keen interest in fluid dynamics. The student will work within the Centre for Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics at Exeter, one of the leading research groups of its kind in the UK, whose research encompasses Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics, the Fluid Dynamics of Weather and Climate, Planetary and Exoplanetary Fluid Dynamics, Solar-Terrestrial Plasmas and Space Weather, Theoretical Fluid Dynamics, and Numerical Analysis and Modelling.