Living Reviews in Computational Astrophysics: "Physical, numerical, and computational challenges of modeling neutrino transport in core-collapse supernovae"

© SpringerMezzacappa, A., Endeve, E., Messer, O.E.B., Bruenn, S.W. Physical, numerical, and computational challenges of modeling neutrino transport in core-collapse supernovae. Living Rev Comput Astrophys 6, 4 (2020).​​​​​​​

Open Access | Review Article

Published: 30 Nov 2020


The proposal that core-collapse supernovae are neutrino driven is still the subject of active investigation more than 50 years after the seminal paper by Colgate and White. The modern version of this paradigm, which we owe to Wilson, proposes that the supernova shock wave is powered by neutrino heating, mediated by the absorption of electron-flavor neutrinos and antineutrinos emanating from the proto-neutron star surface, or neutrinosphere. Neutrino weak interactions with the stellar core fluid, the theory of which is still evolving, are flavor and energy dependent. The associated neutrino mean free paths extend over many orders of magnitude and are never always small relative to the stellar core radius. Thus, neutrinos are never always fluid like. Instead, a kinetic description of them in terms of distribution functions that determine the number density of neutrinos in the six-dimensional phase space of position, direction, and energy, for both neutrinos and antineutrinos of each flavor, or in terms of angular moments of these neutrino distributions that instead provide neutrino number densities in the four-dimensional phase-space subspace of position and energy, is needed. In turn, the computational challenge is twofold: (i) to map the kinetic equations governing the evolution of these distributions or moments onto discrete representations that are stable, accurate, and, perhaps most important, respect physical laws such as conservation of lepton number and energy and the Fermi–Dirac nature of neutrinos and (ii) to develop efficient, supercomputer-architecture-aware solution methods for the resultant nonlinear algebraic equations. In this review, we present the current state of the art in attempts to meet this challenge.