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Published February 2023 | Published
Journal Article Open

An accurate treatment of scattering and diffusion in piecewise power-law models for cosmic ray and radiation/neutrino transport


A popular numerical method to model the dynamics of a 'full spectrum' of cosmic rays (CRs), also applicable to radiation/neutrino hydrodynamics, is to discretize the spectrum at each location/cell as a piecewise power law in 'bins' of momentum (or frequency) space. This gives rise to a pair of conserved quantities (e.g. CR number and energy) that are exchanged between cells or bins, which in turn give the update to the normalization and slope of the spectrum in each bin. While these methods can be evolved exactly in momentum-space (e.g. considering injection, absorption, continuous losses/gains), numerical challenges arise dealing with spatial fluxes, if the scattering rates depend on momentum. This has often been treated either by neglecting variation of those rates 'within the bin,' or sacrificing conservation – introducing significant errors. Here, we derive a rigorous treatment of these terms, and show that the variation within the bin can be accounted for accurately with a simple set of scalar correction coefficients that can be written entirely in terms of other, explicitly evolved 'bin-integrated' quantities. This eliminates the relevant errors without added computational cost, has no effect on the numerical stability of the method, and retains manifest conservation. We derive correction terms both for methods that explicitly integrate flux variables (e.g. two-moment or M1-like) methods, as well as single-moment (advection-diffusion, FLD-like) methods, and approximate corrections valid in various limits.

Additional Information

© 2022 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model) Support for PFH was provided by NSF Research Grants 1911233 and20009234, NSF CAREER grant 1455342, NASA grants 80NSSC18K0562,HST-AR-15800.001-A. Numerical calculations were run on the Caltech compute cluster 'Wheeler,' allocations FTA-Hopkins supported by the NSF and TACC, and NASA HEC SMD-16-7592. DATA AVAILABILITY. The data supporting this article are available on reasonable request to the corresponding author.

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023