Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

Document Type



This thesis contains results on two related projects. In the first project, we explore non-axisymmetric instabilities in general relativistic accretion disks around black holes. Such disks are created as transient structures in several astrophysical scenarios, including mergers of compact objects and core collapse of massive stars. These disks are suggested for the role of cenral engines of gamma-ray bursts. We address the stability of these objects against the runaway and non-axisymmetric instabilities in the three-dimensional hydrodynamical fully general relativistic treatment. We explore three slender and moderately slender disk models with varying disk-to-black hole mass ratio. None of the models that we consider develop the runaway instability during the time span of the simulations, despite large radial axisymmetric oscillations, induced in the disks by the initial data construction procedure. All models develop unstable non-axisymmetric modes on a dynamical timescale. In simulations with dynamical general relativistic treatment, we observe two distinct types of instabilities: the Papaloizou-Pringle instability and the so-called Intermediate instability. The development of the nonaxisymmetric mode with azimuthal number m=1 is enhanced by the outspiraling motion of the black hole. The overall picture of the unstable modes in our disk models is similar to the Newtonian case. In the second project, we experiment with solving the Einstein constraint equations using finite elements on semistructured triangulations of multiblock grids. We illustrate our approach with a simple example of Brill wave initial data, with the constraints reducing to a single linear elliptic equation for the conformal factor $\psi$. We use quadratic Lagrange elements on semi-structured simplicial meshes, obtained by triangulation of multi-block grids. In the case of uniform refinement the scheme is superconvergent at most mesh vertices, due to local symmetry of the finite element basis with respect to local spatial inversions. We show that in the superconvergent case subsequent unstructured mesh refinements do not improve the quality of our initial data. As proof of concept that this approach is feasible for generating multi-block initial data in three dimensions, we evolve the constructed initial data using a high order finite-differencing multi-block approach and extract gravitational waves from the numerical solution.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

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Committee Chair

Pullin, Jorge