Burning thermals in type Ia supernovae

Andrew Aspden, J. Bell, S. Dong, S. Woosley

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    We develop a one-dimensional theoretical model for thermals burning in Type Ia supernovae based on the entrainment assumption of Morton, Taylor, and Turner. Extensions of the standard model are required to account for the burning and for the expansion of the thermal due to changes in the background stratification found in the full star. The model is compared with high-resolution three-dimensional numerical simulations, both in a uniform environment and a full-star setting. The simulations in a uniform environment present compelling agreement with the predicted power laws and provide model constants for the full-star model, which then provides excellent agreement with the full-star simulation. The importance of the different components in the model is compared, and are all shown to be relevant. An examination of the effect of initial conditions was then conducted using the one-dimensional model, which would have been infeasible in three dimensions. More mass was burned when the ignition kernel was larger and closer to the center of the star. The turbulent flame speed was found to be important during the early-time evolution of the thermal, but played a diminished role at later times when the evolution is dominated by the large-scale hydrodynamics responsible for entrainment. However, a higher flame speed effectively gave a larger initial ignition kernel and so resulted in more mass burned. This suggests that future studies should focus on the early-time behavior of these thermals (in particular, the transition to turbulence), and that the choice of turbulent flame speed does not play a significant role in the dynamics once the thermal has become established.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)94
    Number of pages1
    JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011


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