Particle and Flames in Radiative and Magnetic Flows

October 11-15, 2010
Lyon, France

Contribution of E. Mueller


Simulating the explosion of massive stars: computational challenges and recent results


Explosive fate of stars


core collapse supernovae, neutrino transport, MHD, gravitational waves


Core collapse supernovae are dramatic explosions of giant massive stars at the end of their thermonuclear evolution giving birth to neutron stars and black holes. The optical supernova outburst commences when the explosion wave, generated in the optically obscured stellar center, eventually reaches the surface layers of the star. As giant stars have very large radii, the optical outburst begins only hours after the actual onset of the catastrophe in the very center of the star. There the burnt out stellar iron core collapses to a neutron star or black hole thereby liberating the energy which causes the supernova explosion. The only means to get direct and immediate information about the supernova "engine" is from observations of neutrinos emitted by the forming neutron star, and through gravitational waves which are emitted when the collapse does not proceed perfectly symmetrically. Numerical simulations exploiting the most powerful supercomputers provide a third way to study the complex supernova phenomenon. In the talk I will discuss some of the computational challenges encountered when simulating the physical processes causing and or ocurring during the explosion, and present some results from recent core collapse supernova simulations.