Dipolar versus multipolar dynamos: the influence of the background density stratification
Context: dynamo action in giant planets and rapidly rotating stars leads to a broad variety of magnetic field geometries including small scale multipolar and large scale dipole-dominated topologies. Previous dynamo models suggest that solutions become multipolar once inertia becomes influential. Being tailored for terrestrial planets, most of these models neglected the background density stratification. Aims: we investigate the influence of the density stratification on convection-driven dynamo models. Methods: three-dimensional nonlinear simulations of rapidly rotating spherical shells are employed using the anelastic approximation to incorporate density stratification. A systematic parametric study for various density stratifications and Rayleigh numbers allows to explore the dependence of the magnetic field topology on these parameters. Results: anelastic dynamo models tend to produce a broad range of magnetic field geometries that fall on two distinct branches with either strong dipole-dominated or weak multipolar fields. As long as inertia is weak, both branches can coexist but the dipolar branch vanishes once inertia becomes influential. The dipolar branch also vanishes for stronger density stratifications. The reason is the concentration of the convective columns in a narrow region close to the outer boundary equator, a configuration that favors non-axisymmetric solutions. In multipolar solutions, zonal flows can become significant and participate in the toroidal field generation. Parker dynamo waves may then play an important role close to onset of dynamo action leading to a cyclic magnetic field behavior. Conclusion: Our simulations also suggest that the fact that late M dwarfs have dipolar or multipolar magnetic fields can be explained in two ways. They may differ either by the relative influence of inertia or fall into the regime where both types of solutions coexist.