Laminar and Turbulent Dynamos in Chiral Magnetohydrodynamics. I. Theory

Igor Rogachevskii, Oleg Ruchayskiy, Alexey Boyarsky, Jürg Fröhlich, Nathan Kleeorin, Axel Brandenburg, Jennifer Schober

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) description of plasmas with relativistic particles necessarily includes an additional new field, the chiral chemical potential associated with the axial charge (i.e., the number difference between right- and left-handed relativistic fermions). This chiral chemical potential gives rise to a contribution to the electric current density of the plasma (chiral magnetic effect). We present a self-consistent treatment of the chiral MHD equations, which include the back-reaction of the magnetic field on a chiral chemical potential and its interaction with the plasma velocity field. A number of novel phenomena are exhibited. First, we show that the chiral magnetic effect decreases the frequency of the Alfvén wave for incompressible flows, increases the frequencies of the Alfvén wave and of the fast magnetosonic wave for compressible flows, and decreases the frequency of the slow magnetosonic wave. Second, we show that, in addition to the well-known laminar chiral dynamo effect, which is not related to fluid motions, there is a dynamo caused by the joint action of velocity shear and chiral magnetic effect. In the presence of turbulence with vanishing mean kinetic helicity, the derived mean-field chiral MHD equations describe turbulent large-scale dynamos caused by the chiral alpha effect, which is dominant for large fluid and magnetic Reynolds numbers. The chiral alpha effect is due to an interaction of the chiral magnetic effect and fluctuations of the small-scale current produced by tangling magnetic fluctuations (which are generated by tangling of the large-scale magnetic field by sheared velocity fluctuations). These dynamo effects may have interesting consequences in the dynamics of the early universe, neutron stars, and the quark-gluon plasma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 10 Sep 2017


  • dynamo
  • early universe
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • turbulence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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