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NERSC Initiative for Scientific Exploration (NISE) 2010 Awards

Models for the Explosion of Type Ia Supernovae

Stan Woosley, University of California, Santa Cruz

Associated NERSC Project: Computational Astrophysics Consortium (m106), Principal Investigator: Stan Woosley

NISE Award: 2,500,000 Hours
Award Date: April 2010

Using the 3D AMR code CASTRO, we will model the deflagration phase of Type Ia supernovae. For 40 years this has been a forefront problem in computational astrophysics, but only recently have the codes and machines reached the point where a first principle's simulation can be attempted. Starting from a carbon-oxygen white dwarf that has reached a critical mass and ignited a thermonuclear runaway in its core, we will follow the carbon fusion flame as it propagates through the star and erupts from its surface. Quite different results have been obtained by the two groups who have so far attempted this problem in 3D (Chicago FLASH and Munich MPA). We hope to resolve the discrepancy and determine which happens more frequently in nature. Ignition conditions will be taken from other studies by our group at ORNL using the MAESTRO code that can follow the initial, highly subsonic stages of the runaway. Resolution should be sufficient to at least approximately resolve the integral scale of the highly turbulent burning (10 km).