HERO - A 3D general relativistic radiative post-processor for accretion discs around black holes

Yucong Zhu, Ramesh Narayan, Aleksander Sadowski, Dimitrios Psaltis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


HERO (Hybrid Evaluator forRadiativeObjects) is a 3Dgeneral relativistic radiative transfer code which has been tailored to the problem of analysing radiation from simulations of relativistic accretion discs around black holes. HERO is designed to be used as a post-processor. Given some fixed fluid structure for the disc (i.e. density and velocity as a function of position from a hydrodynamic or magnetohydrodynamic simulation), the code obtains a self-consistent solution for the radiation field and for the gas temperatures using the condition of radiative equilibrium. The novel aspect of HERO is that it combines two techniques: (1) a short-characteristics (SC) solver that quickly converges to a self-consistent disc temperature and radiation field, with (2) a long-characteristics (LC) solver that provides a more accurate solution for the radiation near the photosphere and in the optically thin regions. By combining these two techniques, we gain both the computational speed of SC and the high accuracy of LC. We present tests of HERO on a range of 1D, 2D, and 3D problems in flat space and show that the results agree well with both analytical and benchmark solutions. We also test the ability of the code to handle relativistic problems in curved space. Finally, we discuss the important topic of ray defects, a major limitation of the SC method, and describe our strategy for minimizing the induced error.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1661-1681
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Accretion, accretion discs
  • Black hole physics
  • Methods: numerical
  • Radiative transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'HERO - A 3D general relativistic radiative post-processor for accretion discs around black holes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this