The National Institute for Computational Sciences

Unleashing CHIMERA: Multidimensional Supernova Simulations

Core-collapse supernovas, stars whose iron cores exceed the Chandrasekhar mass and implode under their own weight, litter the universe with most of the elements in the periodic table—all of the gold in California is the result of their demise.

They are also prodigious sources of neutrinos, gravitational waves, and photons across the electromagnetic spectrum and lead to the formation of neutron stars and black holes. Despite their importance in the universe, however, the mechanism responsible for the explosion of these supernovas is not fully understood.

Studying these phenomena will provide researchers with information outside the bounds of traditional, visual observation. A team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Bronson Messer will apply Kraken’s petascale computing power to more closely study these stellar events and determine if in fact the neutrino-driven mechanism is a viable explanation for the explosion. Messer and his team will use CHIMERA, a massively parallel multiphysics code especially designed to simulate core collapse supernovas and the only three-dimensional code that accounts for the differing energies of neutrinos, necessary in deciphering one of astrophysics’ greatest remaining mysteries. Kraken’s raw computing power and its ability to run jobs at scale will provide the perfect setting for the achievement of this goal.