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2/17/14 Monday: Sean Couch TAP Colloquium Series


Sean M. Couch, University of Chicago
At the Edge of Explosion: Simulating the Violent Deaths of Massive Stars

Core-collapse supernovae (CCSNe) are the luminous explosions that herald the death of massive stars. Neutron stars, pulsars, magnetars, and black holes are all born in these explosions. Observations show that certain CCSNe share a common progenitor with long gamma-ray bursts. CCSNe are also largely responsible for the production of heavy elements throughout the universe and for driving galactic chemical evolution. Despite the importance of CCSNe to our understanding of many aspects of the universe, the mechanism that reverses stellar core collapse and drives these explosions is not fully understood. I will discuss the current state-of-the-art in CCSN theory and simulation, with an emphasis on my work on three-dimensional CCSN simulations. Tremendous insights about the CCSN mechanism are being gained from these simulations, including the pesky result that 3D simulations are even less prone to explosion than 2D. I will highlight my recent work showing the tremendous importance of realistic progenitor structure for the CCSN mechanism and discuss new physics frontiers in CCSN theory that have the potential to reveal a successful explosion mechanism.

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