University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, April 8th 2016
11:15 am:
Speaker: Evan O'Connor, North Carolina State University
Subject: The Death of Massive Stars

Core collapse marks the end stage of stellar evolution and the beginning of one of the most energetic events in the modern universe. The transformation of the iron core in an evolved massive star to a neutron star releases a huge amount of gravitational binding energy, the equivalent of a few tenths of a solar mass. This energy source is tapped to produce the explosion we see as a core-collapse supernova. Core-collapse supernovae are a cornerstone of astrophysics. They unbind the nucleosynthetic products of massive stars, trigger local star formation, are the birth place for both neutron stars and black holes, the site of long gamma-ray bursts, and the list goes on.

At the heart of core-collapse supernovae is the central engine that turns the initial implosion of the iron core into an explosion that eventually propagates out through the star (or fails and produces stellar mass black holes). In order to understand this engine we must perform multidimensional hydrodynamic simulations that includes state of the art hydrodynamics, neutrino transport, nuclear microphysics, and treatments of gravity, among others, that make this problem truly rich in physics. In this talk, I will give an update on the present status of understanding the core-collapse supernova central engine including showing recent multidimensional results using a new neutrino transport scheme developed in the hydrodynamics package FLASH. I will also discuss the progenitor dependence of core-collapse supernovae and how we can use observables of the central engine, namely neutrinos, to constrain the late stages of stellar evolution.

Faculty Host: Yong-Zhong Qian

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