Problems of gravitational stability in the presence of a magnetic field

Chandrasekhar, S. ; Fermi, E. (1953) Problems of gravitational stability in the presence of a magnetic field Astrophysical Journal . pp. 116-141. ISSN 0004-637X

PDF - Publisher Version

Official URL:


In this paper a number of problems are considered which are related to the gravitational stability of cosmical masses of infinite electrical conductivity in which there is a prevalent magnetic field. In Section I the virial theorem is extended to include the magnetic terms in the equations of motion, and it is shown that when the magnetic energy exceeds the numerical value of the gravitational potential energy, the configuration becomes dynamically unstable. It is suggested that the relatively long periods of the magnetic variables may be due to the magnetic energy of these stars approaching the limit set by the virial theorem. In Section II the adiabatic radial pulsations of an infinite cylinder along the axis of which a magnetic field is acting is considered. An explicit expression for the period is obtained. Section III is devoted to an investigation of the stability for transverse oscillations of an infinite cylinder of incompressible fluid when there is a uniform magnetic field acting in the direction of the axis. It is shown that the cylinder is unstable for all periodic deformations of the boundary with wave lengths exceeding a certain critical value, depending on the strength of the field. The wave length of maximum instability is also determined. It is found that the magnetic field has a stabilizing effect both in increasing the wave length of maximum instability and in prolonging the time needed for the instability to manifest itself. For a cylinder of radius R = 250 parsecs and p = 2 × 10-24 gm/cm3 a magnetic field in excess of 7 × l0-6 gauss effectively removes the instability. In Section IV it is shown that a fluid sphere with a uniform magnetic field inside and a dipole field outside is not a configuration of equilibrium and that it will tend to become oblate by contracting in the direction of the field. Finally, in Section V the gravitational instability of an infinite homogeneous medium in the presence of a magnetic field is considered, and it is shown that jeans's condition is unaffected by the presence of the field.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to American Astronomical Society.
ID Code:76768
Deposited On:07 Jan 2012 04:17
Last Modified:18 May 2016 20:19

Repository Staff Only: item control page