Multidimensional multiscale dynamics of high-energy astrophysical flows

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2010-05

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Abstract

Astrophysical flows have an enormous dynamic range of relevant length scales. The physics occurring on the smallest scales often influences the physics of the largest scales, and vice versa. I present a detailed study of the multiscale and multidimensional behavior of three high-energy astrophysical flows: jet-driven supernovae, massive black hole accretion, and current-driven instabilities in gamma-ray burst external shocks. Both theory and observations of core-collapse supernovae indicate these events are not spherically-symmetric; however, the observations are often modeled assuming a spherically-symmetric explosion. I present an in-depth exploration of the effects of aspherical explosions on the observational characteristics of supernovae. This is accomplished in large part by high-resolution, multidimensional numerical simulations of jet-driven supernovae. The existence of supermassive black holes in the centers of most large galaxies is a well-established fact in observational astronomy. How such black holes came to be so massive, however, is not well established. In this work, I discuss the implications of radiative feedback and multidimensional behavior on black hole accretion. I show that the accretion rate is drastically reduced relative to the Eddington rate, making it unlikely that stellar mass black holes could grow to supermassive black holes in less than a Hubble time. Finally, I discuss a mechanism by which magnetic field strength could be enhanced behind a gamma-ray burst external shock. This mechanism relies on a current-driven instability that would cause reorganization of the pre-shock plasma into clumps. Once shocked, these clumps generate vorticity in the post-shock plasma and ultimately enhance the magnetic energy via a relativistic dynamo process.

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