General Relativistic Magnetohydrodynamics
Charles F. Gammie
College: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Award year: 2001-2002
Black holes are believed to lie, seemingly paradoxically, at the heart of some of the most luminous objects in the universe: quasars, active galactic nuclei, and gamma-ray bursts. While black holes themselves are perfectly absorbing, they are surrounded by a hot plasma that radiates throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. This accretion flow may be heated either by its gradual descent toward the black hole's event horizon or by its interaction with the gravitational field of a rotating black hole. It is not known which of these two processes dominates, and whether either plays a role in launching the fast, bipolar jets observed near many black hole candidates. The primary goal of this proposal is to develop the numerical models that are needed to distinguish between these possibilities and to understand how jets are launched. I plan to work with NCSA personnel in developing the numerical framework for the models and in optimizing them to run on the new generation of linux clusters now being installed at NCSA. In addition, I plan to begin work on the Digital Demo Room, a long-term project designed to make research-level numerical astrophysics codes available on the web in a context that is useful for education at the undergraduate and graduate level.