Publications by Will Potter

Surprises in astrophysical gasdynamics.

Reports on progress in physics. Physical Society (Great Britain) 79 (2016) 066901-

SA Balbus, WJ Potter

Much of astrophysics consists of the study of ionized gas under the influence of gravitational and magnetic fields. Thus, it is not possible to understand the astrophysical universe without a detailed knowledge of the dynamics of magnetized fluids. Fluid dynamics is, however, a notoriously tricky subject, in which it is all too easy for one's a priori intuition to go astray. In this review, we seek to guide the reader through a series of illuminating yet deceptive problems, all with an enlightening twist. We cover a broad range of topics including the instabilities acting in accretion discs, the hydrodynamics governing the convective zone of the Sun, the magnetic shielding of a cooling galaxy cluster, and the behaviour of thermal instabilities and evaporating clouds. The aim of this review is to surprise and intrigue even veteran astrophysical theorists with an idiosyncratic choice of problems and counterintuitive results. At the same time, we endeavour to bring forth the fundamental ideas, to set out important assumptions, and to describe carefully whatever novel techniques may be appropriate to the problem at hand. By beginning at the beginning, and analysing a wide variety of astrophysical settings, we seek not only to make this review suitable for fluid dynamic veterans, but to engage novice recruits as well with what we hope will be an unusual and instructive introduction to the subject.

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