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Inside the supernova: A powerful convective engine
Herant, Marc; Benz, Willy; Hix, W. Raphael; Fryer, Chris L.; Colgate, Stirling A. 
AA(Board of Studies in Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064), AB(Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721), AC(Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138), AD(Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721), AE(Theory Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MS B275, Los Alamos, NM 87545)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 435, no. 1, p. 339-361 (ApJ Homepage)
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NASA/STI Keywords:
Carnot Cycle, Convective Heat Transfer, Flow Stability, Hydrodynamics, Massive Stars, Stellar Evolution, Stellar Models, Supernovae, Mathematical Models, Neutron Stars, Stellar Envelopes, Stellar Interiors
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We present an extensive study of the inception of supernova explosions by following the evolution of the cores of two massive stars (15 and 25 Solar mass) in multidimension. Our calculations begin at the onset of core collapse and stop several hundred milliseconds after the bounce, at which time successful explosions of the appropriate magnitude have been obtained. Similar to the classical delayed explosion mechanism of Wilson, the explosion is powered by the heating of the envelope due to neutrinos emitted by the protoneutron star as it radiates the gravitational energy liberated by the collapse. However, as was shown by Herant, Benz, & Colgate, this heating generates strong convection outside the neutrinosphere, which we demonstrate to be critical to the explosion. By breaking a purely stratified hydrostatic equilibrium, convection moves the nascent supernova away from a delicate radiative equilibrium between neutrino emission and absorption, Thus, unlike what has been observed in one-dimensional calculations, explosions are rendered quite insensitive to the details of the physical input parameters such as neutrino cross sections or nuclear equation of state parameters. As a confirmation, our comparative one-dimensional calculations with identical microphysics, but in which convection cannot occur, lead to dramatic failures. Guided by our numerical results, we have developed a paradigm for the supernova explosion mechanism. We view a supernova as an open cycle thermodynamic engine in which a reservoir of low-entropy matter (the envelope) is thermally coupled and physically connected to a hot bath (the protoneutron star) by a neutrino flux, and by hydrodynamic instabilities. This paradigm does not invoke new or modified physics over previous treatments, but relies on compellingly straightforward thermodynamic arguments. It provides a robust and self-regulated explosion mechanism to power supernovae that is effective under a wide range of physical parameters.

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