Computational Astrophysical Magnetohydrodynamics

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Session 50 -- Grand Challenges in Computational Astrophysics Part I
Oral presentation, Wednesday, 1, 1994, 8:30-12:30

[50.01] Computational Astrophysical Magnetohydrodynamics

M. L. Norman (U. Illinois)

Cosmic magnetic fields have intrigued and vexed astrophysicists seeking to understand their complex dynamics in a wide variety of astronomical settings. Magnetic fields are believed to play an important role in regulating star formation in molecular clouds, providing an effective viscosity in accretion disks, accelerating astrophysical jets, and influencing the large scale structure of the ISM of disk galaxies. Radio observations of supernova remnants and extragalactic radio jets prove that magnetic fields are are fundamentally linked to astrophysical particle acceleration. Magnetic fields exist on cosmological scales as shown by the existence of radio halos in clusters of galaxies. Theoretical investigation of these and other phenomena require numerical simulations due to the inherent complexity of MHD, but until now neither the computer power nor the numerical algorithms existed to mount a serious attack on the most important problems. That has now changed. Advances in parallel computing and numerical algorithms now permit the simulation of fully nonlinear, time-dependent astrophysical MHD in 2D and 3D. In this talk, I will describe the ZEUS codes for astrophysical MHD developed at the Laboratory for Computational Astrophysics (LCA) at the University of Illinois. These codes are now available to the national community. The numerical algorithms and test suite used to validate them are briefly discussed. Several applications of ZEUS to topics listed above are presented. An extension of ZEUS to model ambipolar diffusion in weakly ionized plasmas is illustrated. I discuss how continuing exponential growth in computer power and new numerical algorithms under development will allow us to tackle two grand challenges: compressible MHD turbulence and relativistic MHD.

This work is partially supported by grants NSF AST-9201113 and NASA NAG 5-2493.

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