Journal Article

Numerical heat conduction in hydrodynamical models of colliding hypersonic flows

E. R. Parkin and J. M. Pittard

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 406, issue 4, pages 2373-2385
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16888.x
Numerical heat conduction in hydrodynamical models of colliding hypersonic flows

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Hydrodynamical models of colliding hypersonic flows are presented which explore the dependence of the resulting dynamics and the characteristics of the derived X-ray emission on numerical conduction and viscosity. For the purpose of our investigation, we present models of colliding flow with plane-parallel and cylindrical divergence. Numerical conduction causes erroneous heating of gas across the contact discontinuity which has implications for the rate at which the gas cools. We find that the dynamics of the shocked gas and the resulting X-ray emission are strongly dependent on the contrast in the density and temperature either side of the contact discontinuity, these effects being strongest where the post-shock gas of one flow behaves quasi-adiabatically while the post-shock gas of the other flow is strongly radiative.

Introducing additional numerical viscosity into the simulations has the effect of damping the growth of instabilities, which in some cases act to increase the volume of shocked gas and can re-heat gas via sub-shocks as it flows downstream. The resulting reduction in the surface area between adjacent flows, and therefore in the amount of numerical conduction, leads to a commensurate reduction in spurious X-ray emission, though the dynamics of the collision are compromised.

The simulation resolution also affects the degree of numerical conduction. A finer resolution better resolves the interfaces of high density and temperature contrast, and although numerical conduction still exists the volume of affected gas is considerably reduced. However, since it is not always practical to increase the resolution, it is imperative that the degree of numerical conduction is understood so that inaccurate interpretations can be avoided. This work has implications for the dynamics and emission from astrophysical phenomena which involve high Mach number shocks.

Keywords: conduction; hydrodynamics; shock waves; methods: numerical; ISM: jets and outflows; X-rays: general

Journal Article.  8930 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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