Turbulent convection in stellar interiors. III. mean-field analysis and stratification effects

Maxime Viallet, Casey Meakin, David Arnett, Miroslav Mocák

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


We present three-dimensional implicit large eddy simulations of the turbulent convection in the envelope of a 5 M red giant star and in the oxygen-burning shell of a 23 M supernova progenitor. The numerical models are analyzed in the framework of one-dimensional Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes equations. The effects of pressure fluctuations are more important in the red giant model, owing to larger stratification of the convective zone. We show how this impacts different terms in the mean-field equations. We clarify the driving sources of kinetic energy, and show that the rate of turbulent dissipation is comparable to the convective luminosity. Although our flows have low Mach numbers and are nearly adiabatic, our analysis is general and can be applied to photospheric convection as well. The robustness of our analysis of turbulent convection is supported by the insensitivity of the mean-field balances to linear mesh resolution. We find robust results for the turbulent convection zone and the stable layers in the oxygen-burning shell model, and robust results everywhere in the red giant model, but the mean fields are not well converged in the narrow boundary regions (which contain steep gradients) in the oxygen-burning shell model. This last result illustrates the importance of unresolved physics at the convective boundary, which governs the mixing there.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 20 2013


  • convection
  • hydrodynamics
  • stars: evolution
  • stars: interiors
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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