Radiation Hydrodynamics

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The discipline of radiation hydrodynamics is the branch of hydrodynamics in which the moving fluid absorbs and emits electromagnetic radiation, and in so doing modifies its dynamical behavior. That is, the net gain or loss of energy by parcels of the fluid material through absorption or emission of radiation are sufficient to change the pressure of the material, and therefore change its motion; alternatively, the net momentum exchange between radiation and matter may alter the motion of the matter directly. Ignoring the radiation contributions to energy and momentum will give a wrong prediction of the hydrodynamic motion when the correct ... continued below

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Castor, J. I. October 16, 2003.

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The discipline of radiation hydrodynamics is the branch of hydrodynamics in which the moving fluid absorbs and emits electromagnetic radiation, and in so doing modifies its dynamical behavior. That is, the net gain or loss of energy by parcels of the fluid material through absorption or emission of radiation are sufficient to change the pressure of the material, and therefore change its motion; alternatively, the net momentum exchange between radiation and matter may alter the motion of the matter directly. Ignoring the radiation contributions to energy and momentum will give a wrong prediction of the hydrodynamic motion when the correct description is radiation hydrodynamics. Of course, there are circumstances when a large quantity of radiation is present, yet can be ignored without causing the model to be in error. This happens when radiation from an exterior source streams through the problem, but the latter is so transparent that the energy and momentum coupling is negligible. Everything we say about radiation hydrodynamics applies equally well to neutrinos and photons (apart from the Einstein relations, specific to bosons), but in almost every area of astrophysics neutrino hydrodynamics is ignored, simply because the systems are exceedingly transparent to neutrinos, even though the energy flux in neutrinos may be substantial. Another place where we can do ''radiation hydrodynamics'' without using any sophisticated theory is deep within stars or other bodies, where the material is so opaque to the radiation that the mean free path of photons is entirely negligible compared with the size of the system, the distance over which any fluid quantity varies, and so on. In this case we can suppose that the radiation is in equilibrium with the matter locally, and its energy, pressure and momentum can be lumped in with those of the rest of the fluid. That is, it is no more necessary to distinguish photons from atoms, nuclei and electrons, than it is to distinguish hydrogen atoms from helium atoms, for instance. There are all just components of a mixed fluid in this case. So why do we have a special subject called ''radiation hydrodynamics'', when photons are just one of the many kinds of particles that comprise our fluid? The reason is that photons couple rather weakly to the atoms, ions and electrons, much more weakly than those particles couple with each other. Nor is the matter-radiation coupling negligible in many problems, since the star or nebula may be millions of mean free paths in extent. Radiation hydrodynamics exists as a discipline to treat those problems for which the energy and momentum coupling terms between matter and radiation are important, and for which, since the photon mean free path is neither extremely large nor extremely small compared with the size of the system, the radiation field is not very easy to calculate. In the theoretical development of this subject, many of the relations are presented in a form that is described as approximate, and perhaps accurate only to order of {nu}/c. This makes the discussion cumbersome. Why are we required to do this? It is because we are using Newtonian mechanics to treat our fluid, yet its photon component is intrinsically relativistic; the particles travel at the speed of light. There is a perfectly consistent relativistic kinetic theory, and a corresponding relativistic theory of fluid mechanics, which is perfectly suited to describing the photon gas. But it is cumbersome to use this for the fluid in general, and we prefer to avoid it for cases in which the flow velocity satisfies {nu} << c. The price we pay is to spend extra effort making sure that the source-sink terms relating to our relativistic gas component are included in the equations of motion in a form that preserves overall conservation of energy and momentum, something that would be automatic if the relativistic equations were used throughout.

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PDF-file: 348 pages; size: 2.2 Mbytes

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  • Radiation Hydrodynamics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004, i-xii, 1-355

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  • Report No.: UCRL-BOOK-134209-REV-1
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 898010
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc879997

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • October 16, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Oct. 7, 2016, 5:51 p.m.

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Castor, J. I. Radiation Hydrodynamics, book, October 16, 2003; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc879997/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.