3D simulations of a neon burning convective shell in a massive star

C. Georgy, F. Rizzuti, R. Hirschi, V. Varma, W. D. Arnett, C. Meakin, M. Mocak, A. St J. Murphy, T. Rauscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The treatment of convection remains a major weakness in the modelling of stellar evolution with one-dimensional (1D) codes. The ever-increasing computing power makes now possible to simulate in three-dimensional (3D) part of a star for a fraction of its life, allowing us to study the full complexity of convective zones with hydrodynamics codes. Here, we performed state-of-the-art hydrodynamics simulations of turbulence in a neon-burning convective zone, during the late stage of the life of a massive star. We produced a set of simulations varying the resolution of the computing domain (from 1283 to 10243 cells) and the efficiency of the nuclear reactions (by boosting the energy generation rate from nominal to a factor of 1000). We analysed our results by the mean of Fourier transform of the velocity field, and mean-field decomposition of the various transport equations. Our results are in line with previous studies, showing that the behaviour of the bulk of the convective zone is already well captured at a relatively low resolution (2563), while the details of the convective boundaries require higher resolutions. The different boosting factors used show how various quantities (velocity, buoyancy, abundances, and abundance variances) depend on the energy generation rate. We found that for low boosting factors, convective zones are well mixed, validating the approach usually used in 1D stellar evolution codes. However, when nuclear burning and turbulent transport occur on the same time-scale, a more sophisticated treatment would be needed. This is typically the case when shell mergers occur.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberstae1381
Pages (from-to)4293-4310
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date3 Jun 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2024


  • convection
  • hydrodynamics
  • nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances
  • stars: evolution
  • stars: interiors
  • turbulence


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