Turbulence in nearly incompressible fluids: density spectrum, flows, correlations and implication to the interstellar medium
- Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Riverside CA 92521, USA
Abstract. Interstellar scintillation and angular radio wave broadening measurements show that interstellar and solar wind (electron) density fluctuations exhibit a Kolmogorov-like k-5/3 power spectrum extending over many decades in wavenumber space. The ubiquity of the Kolmogorov-like interstellar medium (ISM) density spectrum led to an explanation based on coupling incompressible magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) fluctuations to density fluctuations through a "pseudosound" relation within the context of "nearly incompressible" (NI) hydrodynamics (HD) and MHD models. The NI theory provides a fundamentally different explanation for the observed ISM density spectrum in that the density fluctuations can be a consequence of passive scalar convection due to background incompressible fluctuations. The theory further predicts generation of long-scale structures and various correlations between the density, temperature and the (magneto) acoustic as well as convective pressure fluctuations in the compressible ISM fluids in different thermal regimes that are determined purely by the thermal fluctuation level. In this paper, we present the results of our two dimensional nonlinear fluid simulations, exploring various nonlinear aspects that lead to inertial range ISM turbulence within the context of a NI hydrodymanics model. In qualitative agreement with the NI predictions and the in-situ observations, we find that i) the density fluctuations exhibit a Kolmogorov-like spectrum via a passive convection in the field of the background incompressible fluctuations, ii) the compressible ISM fluctuations form long scale flows and structures, and iii) the density and the temperature fluctuations are anti-correlated.