3D stellar evolution: hydrodynamic simulations of a complete burning phase in a massive star

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our knowledge of stellar evolution is driven by one-dimensional (1D) simulations. 1D models, however, are severely limited by uncertainties on the exact behaviour of many multidimensional phenomena occurring inside stars, affecting their structure and evolution. Recent advances in computing resources have allowed small sections of a star to be reproduced with multi-D hydrodynamic models, with an unprecedented degree of detail and realism. In this work, we present a set of 3D simulations of a convective neon-burning shell in a 20 M star run for the first time continuously from its early development through to complete fuel exhaustion, using unaltered input conditions from a 321D-guided 1D stellar model. These simulations help answer some open questions in stellar physics. In particular, they show that convective regions do not grow indefinitely due to entrainment of fresh material, but fuel consumption prevails over entrainment, so when fuel is exhausted convection also starts decaying. Our results show convergence between the multi-D simulations and the new 321D-guided 1D model, concerning the amount of convective boundary mixing to include in stellar models. The size of the convective zones in a star strongly affects its structure and evolution; thus, revising their modelling in 1D will have important implications for the life and fate of stars. This will thus affect theoretical predictions related to nucleosynthesis, supernova explosions, and compact remnants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2317-2328
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • abundances
  • convection
  • hydrodynamics
  • nuclear reactions
  • nucleosynthesis
  • stars: evolution
  • stars: interiors
  • stars: massive


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