Key issues review: Numerical studies of turbulence in stars

W. David Arnett, Casey Meakin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Three major problems of single-star astrophysics are convection, magnetic fields and rotation. Numerical simulations of convection in stars now have sufficient resolution to be truly turbulent, with effective Reynolds numbers of Re > 104, and some turbulent boundary layers have been resolved. Implications of these developments are discussed for stellar structure, evolution and explosion as supernovae. Methods for three-dimensional (3D) simulations of stars are compared and discussed for 3D atmospheres, solar rotation, core-collapse and stellar boundary layers. Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) analysis of the numerical simulations has been shown to provide a novel and quantitative estimate of resolution errors. Present treatments of stellar boundaries require revision, even for early burning stages (e.g. for mixing regions during He-burning). As stellar core-collapse is approached, asymmetry and fluctuations grow, rendering spherically symmetric models of progenitors more unrealistic. Numerical resolution of several different types of three-dimensional (3D) stellar simulations are compared; it is suggested that core-collapse simulations may be under-resolved. The Rayleigh-Taylor instability in explosions has a deep connection to convection, for which the abundance structure in supernova remnants may provide evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102901
JournalReports on Progress in Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 22 2016


  • stellar evolution
  • supernovae
  • three-dimensional fluid simulations
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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