Department of Computer Science

Dust destruction in Supernova blast waves

A supernova explosion blasts hot supersonic plasma, destroying more interstellar dust in its path than fits current theory or observations of dust abundances in early galaxies. Our new experiments include dust shattering due to grain-grain interactions and find the effective rate of dust destruction increases by an order of magnitude, making the gap between theory and observations even worse.
Simulated supernova remnant gas density with turbulent shell
Simulated supernova remnant gas density with turbulent shell

Fast burning giant stars end as a Supernova (SN) explosion, ejecting plasma and dust into the ambient interstellar medium (ISM). The ejecta includes many heavier elements that are essential to form dust, planets and ultimately life, and which can only be fused in the extreme pressures present at the moments of Supernova. Dust forms in the ISM, as gas particles collide and stick together and as they collect into clouds on vast scales enough of the dust and gas can collapse under gravity to form stars and planets.

A supernova blast wave destroys more dust in the ISM than it ejects in the explosion. The rate of dust extinction modelled in SN is too high to explain the great abundances of dust observed in early galaxies, which are characterised by very high rates of SN. Our experiments with Florian Kirchschlager (UCL, UK) and Lars Mattsson (Nordita, Sweden), due to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, are the first to include the effects of dust shattering by grain-grain collisions, as well as the annihilation by the blast wave and heating itself. The results indicate an order of magnitude faster dust annihilation than previously estimated. This poses an even greater challenge to explain the process of dust formation in young galaxies.

Model of the Sun from PRACE project INTERDYNS


The group develops and utilises high-performance computing tools for simulating and analysing data from complex (astro)physical systems, such as turbulent fluids, the Sun, interstellar matter in galaxies.

Department of Computer Science
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Department of Computer Science

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