Slow convection and fast rotation in crystallization-driven white dwarf dynamos

Sivan Ginzburg*, Jim Fuller, Adela Kawka, Ilaria Caiazzo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


It has been recently suggested that white dwarfs generate magnetic fields in a process analogous to the Earth. The crystallization of the core creates a compositional inversion that drives convection, and combined with rotation, this can sustain a magnetic dynamo. We reanalyse the dynamo mechanism, arising from the slow crystallization of the core, and find convective turnover times tconv of weeks to months-longer by orders of magnitude than previously thought. With white dwarf spin periods P tconv, crystallization-driven dynamos are almost always in the fast-rotating regime, where the magnetic field B is at least in equipartition with the convective motion and is possibly further enhanced by a factor of B (tconv/P)1/2, depending on the assumed dynamo scaling law. We track the growth of the crystallized core using mesa and compute the magnetic field B(Teff) as a function of the white dwarf's effective temperature Teff. We compare this prediction with observations and show that crystallization-driven dynamos can explain some-but not all-of the ∼MG magnetic fields measured for single white dwarfs, as well as the stronger fields measured for white dwarfs in cataclysmic variables, which were spun up by mass accretion to short P. Our B(Teff) curves might also explain the clustering of white dwarfs with Balmer emission lines around Teff ≈ 7500 K.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4111-4119
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society.


  • dynamo
  • stars: magnetic field
  • white dwarfs


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