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Anisotropic turbulent transport in stably stratified rotating stellar radiation zones

Abstract : Rotation is one of the key physical mechanisms that deeply impact the evolution of stars. Helio- and asteroseismology reveal a strong extraction of angular momentum from stellar radiation zones over the whole Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Turbulent transport in differentially rotating, stably stratified stellar radiation zones should be carefully modelled and its strength evaluated. Stratification and rotation imply that this turbulent transport is anisotropic. So far only phenomenological prescriptions have been proposed for the transport in the horizontal direction. This, however, constitutes a cornerstone in current theoretical formalisms for stellar hydrodynamics in evolution codes. We aim to improve its modelling. We derived a new theoretical prescription for the anisotropy of the turbulent transport in radiation zones using a spectral formalism for turbulence that takes simultaneously stable stratification, rotation, and a radial shear into account. Then, the horizontal turbulent transport resulting from 3D turbulent motions sustained by the instability of the radial differential rotation is derived. We implemented this framework in the stellar evolution code STAREVOL and quantified its impact on the rotational and structural evolution of solar metallicity low-mass stars from the pre-main-sequence to the red giant branch. The anisotropy of the turbulent transport scales as N4τ2/(2Ω2), N and Ω being the buoyancy and rotation frequencies respectively and τ a time characterizing the source of turbulence. This leads to a horizontal turbulent transport of similar strength in average that those obtained with previously proposed prescriptions even if it can be locally larger below the convective envelope. Hence the models computed with the new formalism still build up too steep internal rotation gradients compared to helioseismic and asteroseismic constraints. As a consequence, a complementary transport mechanism such as internal gravity waves or magnetic fields is still needed to explain the observed strong transport of angular momentum along stellar evolution. The new prescription links for the first time the anisotropy of the turbulent transport in radiation zones to their stratification and rotation. This constitutes important theoretical progress and demonstrates how turbulent closure models should be improved to get firm conclusions on the potential importance of other processes that transport angular momentum and chemicals inside stars along their evolution.
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S. Mathis, V. Prat, L. Amard, C. Charbonnel, A. Palacios, et al.. Anisotropic turbulent transport in stably stratified rotating stellar radiation zones. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2018, 620, pp.A22. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201629187⟩. ⟨in2p3-01954377⟩



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