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Published October 21, 2009 | public
Journal Article

Probing the core-collapse supernova mechanism with gravitational waves


The mechanism of core-collapse supernova explosions must draw on the energy provided by gravitational collapse and transfer the necessary fraction to the kinetic and internal energy of the ejecta. Despite many decades of concerted theoretical effort, the detailed mechanism of core-collapse supernova explosions is still unknown, but indications are strong that multi-D processes lie at its heart. This opens up the possibility of probing the supernova mechanism with gravitational waves, carrying direct dynamical information from the supernova engine deep inside a dying massive star. I present a concise overview of the physics and primary multi-D dynamics in neutrino-driven, magnetorotational, and acoustically driven core-collapse supernova explosion scenarios. Discussing and contrasting estimates for the gravitational-wave emission characteristics of these mechanisms, I argue that their gravitational-wave signatures are clearly distinct and that the observation (or non-observation) of gravitational waves from a nearby core-collapse event could put strong constraints on the supernova mechanism.

Additional Information

Copyright © Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing Limited 2009. Received 17 May 2009, in final form 2 August 2009. Published 6 October 2009. Print publication: Issue 20 (21 October 2009). It is a pleasure to thank E O'Connor, E Abdikamalov, R Adhikari, A Burrows, L Cadonati, L Dessart, H Dimmelmeier, I S Heng, H-T Janka, E Katsavounidis, S Klimenko, K Kotake, A Marek, C Meakin, J Murphy, R O'Shaughnessy, B Owen, C Pethick, E S Phinney, E Schnetter, U Sperhake and K Thorne for helpful and stimulating discussions. This work was supported by a Sherman Fairchild postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech and by an Otto Hahn Prize awarded to the author by the Max Planck Society. Results presented in this paper were obtained through computations on the NSF Teragrid under grant TG-MCA02N014, on machines of the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative under grant LONI NUMREL04 and at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), which is supported by the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy under contract DE-AC03-76SF00098.

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August 19, 2023
October 19, 2023