The three-dimensional evolution to core collapse of a massive star

Sean M. Couch, Emmanouil Chatzopoulos, W. David Arnett, F. X. Timmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


We present the first three-dimensional (3D) simulation of the final minutes of iron core growth in a massive star, up to and including the point of core gravitational instability and collapse. We capture the development of strong convection driven by violent Si burning in the shell surrounding the iron core. This convective burning builds the iron core to its critical mass and collapse ensues, driven by electron capture and photodisintegration. The non-spherical structure and motion generated by 3D convection is substantial at the point of collapse, with convective speeds of several hundreds of km s-1. We examine the impact of such physically realistic 3D initial conditions on the core-collapse supernova mechanism using 3D simulations including multispecies neutrino leakage and find that the enhanced post-shock turbulence resulting from 3D progenitor structure aids successful explosions. We conclude that non-spherical progenitor structure should not be ignored, and should have a significant and favorable impact on the likelihood for neutrino-driven explosions. In order to make simulating the 3D collapse of an iron core feasible, we were forced to make approximations to the nuclear network making this effort only a first step toward accurate, self-consistent 3D stellar evolution models of the end states of massive stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL21
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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