Francois Foucart

Francois Foucart
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Francois Foucart

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Pub Categories

General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (27)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (22)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (4)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (3)
Astrophysics (2)
Physics - Plasma Physics (1)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (1)
Computer Science - Distributed; Parallel; and Cluster Computing (1)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (1)
Nuclear Theory (1)
Physics - Computational Physics (1)

Publications Authored By Francois Foucart

We investigate the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements in the winds ejected by accretion disks formed in neutron star mergers. We compute the element formation in disk outflows from hypermassive neutron star (HMNS) remnants of variable lifetime, including the effect of angular momentum transport in the disk evolution. We employ long-term axisymmetric hydrodynamic disk simulations to model the ejecta, and compute r-process nucleosynthesis with tracer particles using a nuclear reaction network containing $\sim 8000$ species. Read More

Hot, diffuse, relativistic plasmas such as sub-Eddington black hole accretion flows are expected to be collisionless, yet are commonly modeled as a fluid using ideal general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD). Dissipative effects such as heat conduction and viscosity can be important in a collisionless plasma and will potentially alter the dynamics and radiative properties of the flow from that in ideal fluid models; we refer to models that include these processes as Extended GRMHD. Here we describe a new conservative code, grim, that enables all the above and additional physics to be efficiently incorporated. Read More

We investigate the ejecta from black hole - neutron star mergers by modeling the formation and interaction of mass ejected in a tidal tail and a disk wind. The outflows are neutron-rich, giving rise to optical/infrared emission powered by the radioactive decay of $r$-process elements (a kilonova). Here we perform an end-to-end study of this phenomenon, where we start from the output of a fully-relativistic merger simulation, calculate the post-merger hydrodynamical evolution of the ejecta and disk winds including neutrino physics, determine the final nucleosynthetic yields using post-processing nuclear reaction network calculations, and compute the kilonova emission with a radiative transfer code. Read More

Neutron star-black hole binaries are among the strongest sources of gravitational waves detectable by current observatories. They can also power bright electromagnetic signals (gamma-ray bursts, kilonovae), and may be a significant source of production of r-process nuclei. A misalignment of the black hole spin with respect to the orbital angular momentum leads to precession of that spin and of the orbital plane, and has a significant effect on the properties of the post-merger remnant and of the material ejected by the merger. Read More

We introduce a new relativistic astrophysics code, SpECTRE, that combines a discontinuous Galerkin method with a task-based parallelism model. SpECTRE's goal is to achieve more accurate solutions for challenging relativistic astrophysics problems such as core-collapse supernovae and binary neutron star mergers. The robustness of the discontinuous Galerkin method allows for the use of high-resolution shock capturing methods in regions where (relativistic) shocks are found, while exploiting high-order accuracy in smooth regions. Read More

The coalescence of a neutron star with a black hole is a primary science target of ground-based gravitational wave detectors. Constraining or measuring the neutron star spin directly from gravitational wave observations requires knowledge of the dependence of the emission properties of these systems on the neutron star spin. This paper lays foundations for this task, by developing a numerical method to construct initial data for black hole--neutron star binaries with arbitrary spin on the neutron star. Read More

Binary neutron star mergers are promising sources of gravitational waves for ground-based detectors such as Advanced LIGO. Neutron-rich material ejected by these mergers may also be the main source of r-process elements in the Universe, while radioactive decays in the ejecta can power bright electromagnetic post-merger signals. Neutrino-matter interactions play a critical role in the evolution of the composition of the ejected material, which significantly impacts the outcome of nucleosynthesis and the properties of the associated electromagnetic signal. Read More

We present results on the inspiral, merger, and post-merger evolution of a neutron star - neutron star (NSNS) system. Our results are obtained using the hybrid pseudospectral-finite volume Spectral Einstein Code (SpEC). To test our numerical methods, we evolve an equal-mass system for $\approx 22$ orbits before merger. Read More

Extracting the unique information on ultradense nuclear matter from the gravitational waves emitted by merging, neutron-star binaries requires robust theoretical models of the signal. We develop a novel effective-one-body waveform model that includes, for the first time, dynamic (instead of only adiabatic) tides of the neutron star, as well as the merger signal for neutron-star--black-hole binaries. We demonstrate the importance of the dynamic tides by comparing our model against new numerical-relativity simulations of nonspinning neutron-star--black-hole binaries spanning more than 24 gravitational-wave cycles, and to other existing numerical simulations for double neutron-star systems. Read More

During the merger of a black hole and a neutron star, baryonic mass can become unbound from the system. Because the ejected material is extremely neutron-rich, the r-process rapidly synthesizes heavy nuclides as the material expands and cools. In this work, we map general relativistic models of black hole-neutron star (BHNS) mergers into a Newtonian smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) code and follow the evolution of the thermodynamics and morphology of the ejecta until the outflows become homologous. Read More

Black holes accreting well below the Eddington rate are believed to have geometrically thick, optically thin, rotationally supported accretion discs in which the Coulomb mean free path is large compared to $GM/c^2$. In such an environment, the disc evolution may differ significantly from ideal magnetohydrodynamic predictions. We present non-ideal global axisymmetric simulations of geometrically thick discs around a rotating black hole. Read More

Neutron star mergers are among the most promising sources of gravitational waves for advanced ground-based detectors. These mergers are also expected to power bright electromagnetic signals, in the form of short gamma-ray bursts, infrared/optical transients, and radio emission. Simulations of these mergers with fully general relativistic codes are critical to understand the merger and post-merger gravitational wave signals and their neutrinos and electromagnetic counterparts. Read More

Gravitational waves from binary neutron star (BNS) and black hole/neutron star (BHNS) inspirals are primary sources for detection by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. The tidal forces acting on the neutron stars induce changes in the phase evolution of the gravitational waveform, and these changes can be used to constrain the nuclear equation of state. Current methods of generating BNS and BHNS waveforms rely on either computationally challenging full 3D hydrodynamical simulations or approximate analytic solutions. Read More

We present a code to construct initial data for binary neutron star systems in which the stars are rotating. Our code, based on a formalism developed by Tichy, allows for arbitrary rotation axes of the neutron stars and is able to achieve rotation rates near rotational breakup. We compute the neutron star angular momentum through quasi-local angular momentum integrals. Read More

Black holes that accrete far below the Eddington limit are believed to accrete through a geometrically thick, optically thin, rotationally supported plasma that we will refer to as a radiatively inefficient accretion flow (RIAF). RIAFs are typically collisionless in the sense that the Coulomb mean free path is large compared to $GM/c^2$, and relativistically hot near the event horizon. In this paper we develop a phenomenological model for the plasma in RIAFs, motivated by the application to sources such as Sgr A* and M87. Read More

Construction of binary black hole initial data is a prerequisite for numerical evolutions of binary black holes. This paper reports improvements to the binary black hole initial data solver in the Spectral Einstein Code, to allow robust construction of initial data for mass-ratio above 10:1, and for dimensionless black hole spins above 0.9, while improving efficiency for lower mass-ratios and spins. Read More

We present a first simulation of the post-merger evolution of a black hole-neutron star binary in full general relativity using an energy-integrated general relativistic truncated moment formalism for neutrino transport. We describe our implementation of the moment formalism and important tests of our code, before studying the formation phase of a disk after a black hole-neutron star merger. We use as initial data an existing general relativistic simulation of the merger of a neutron star of 1. Read More

For highly compact neutron stars, constructing numerical initial data for black hole-neutron star binary evolutions is very difficult. We describe improvements to an earlier method that enable it to handle these more challenging cases. We examine the case of a 6:1 mass ratio system in inspiral close to merger, where the star is governed by a polytropic $\Gamma=2$, an SLy, or an LS220 equation of state. Read More

Warped accretion discs are expected in many protostellar binary systems. In this paper, we study the long-term evolution of disc warp and precession for discs with dimensionless thickness $H/r$ larger than their viscosity parameter $\alpha$, such that bending waves can propagate and dominate the warp evolution. For small warps, these discs undergo approximately rigid-body precession. Read More

Dynamical instabilities in protoneutron stars may produce gravitational waves whose observation could shed light on the physics of core-collapse supernovae. When born with sufficient differential rotation, these stars are susceptible to a shear instability (the "low-T/|W| instability"), but such rotation can also amplify magnetic fields to strengths where they have a considerable impact on the dynamics of the stellar matter. Using a new magnetohydrodynamics module for the Spectral Einstein Code, we have simulated a differentially-rotating neutron star in full 3D to study the effects of magnetic fields on this instability. Read More

We present a first exploration of the results of neutron star-black hole mergers using black hole masses in the most likely range of $7M_\odot-10M_\odot$, a neutrino leakage scheme, and a modeling of the neutron star material through a finite-temperature nuclear-theory based equation of state. In the range of black hole spins in which the neutron star is tidally disrupted ($\chi_{\rm BH}\gtrsim 0.7$), we show that the merger consistently produces large amounts of cool ($T\lesssim 1\,{\rm MeV}$), unbound, neutron-rich material ($M_{\rm ej}\sim 0. Read More

We present the first direct comparison of numerical simulations of neutron star-black hole and black hole-black hole mergers in full general relativity. We focus on a configuration with non spinning objects and within the most likely range of mass ratio for neutron star-black hole systems (q=6). In this region of the parameter space, the neutron star is not tidally disrupted prior to merger, and we show that the two types of mergers appear remarkably similar. Read More

Neutrino emission significantly affects the evolution of the accretion tori formed in black hole-neutron star mergers. It removes energy from the disk, alters its composition, and provides a potential power source for a gamma-ray burst. To study these effects, simulations in general relativity with a hot microphysical equation of state and neutrino feedback are needed. Read More

Black hole-neutron star (BHNS) binaries are important sources of gravitational waves for second-generation interferometers, and BHNS mergers are also a proposed engine for short, hard gamma-ray bursts. The behavior of both the spacetime (and thus the emitted gravitational waves) and the neutron star matter in a BHNS merger depend strongly and nonlinearly on the black hole's spin. While there is a significant possibility that astrophysical black holes could have spins that are nearly extremal (i. Read More

Black hole-neutron star mergers resulting in the disruption of the neutron star and the formation of an accretion disk and/or the ejection of unbound material are prime candidates for the joint detection of gravitational-wave and electromagnetic signals when the next generation of gravitational-wave detectors comes online. However, the disruption of the neutron star and the properties of the post-merger remnant are very sensitive to the parameters of the binary. In this paper, we study the impact of the radius of the neutron star and the alignment of the black hole spin for systems within the range of mass ratio currently deemed most likely for field binaries (M_BH ~ 7 M_NS) and for black hole spins large enough for the neutron star to disrupt (J/M^2=0. Read More

The Kepler satellite has discovered a number of transiting planets around close binary stars. These circumbinary systems have highly aligned planetary and binary orbits. In this paper, we explore how the mutual inclination between the planetary and binary orbits may reflect the physical conditions of the assembly of protoplanetary disks and the interaction between protostellar binaries and circumbinary disks. Read More

Determining the final result of black hole-neutron star mergers, and in particular the amount of matter remaining outside the black hole at late times and its properties, has been one of the main motivations behind the numerical simulation of these systems. Black hole-neutron star binaries are amongst the most likely progenitors of short gamma-ray bursts --- as long as massive (probably a few percents of a solar mass), hot accretion disks are formed around the black hole. Whether this actually happens strongly depends on the physical characteristics of the system, and in particular on the mass ratio, the spin of the black hole, and the radius of the neutron star. Read More

General relativistic simulations of black hole-neutron star mergers have currently been limited to low-mass black holes (less than 7 solar mass), even though population synthesis models indicate that a majority of mergers might involve more massive black holes (10 solar mass or more). We present the first general relativistic simulations of black hole-neutron star mergers with 10 solar mass black holes. For massive black holes, the tidal forces acting on the neutron star are usually too weak to disrupt the star before it reaches the innermost stable circular orbit of the black hole. Read More

Magnetic interactions between a protostar and its accretion disc tend to induce warping in the disc and produce secular changes in the stellar spin direction, so that the spin axis may not always be perpendicular to the disc. This may help explain the recently observed spin-orbit misalignment in a number of exoplanetary systems. We study the dynamics of warped protoplanetary discs under the combined effects of magnetic warping/precession torques and internal stresses in the disc, including viscous damping of warps and propagation of bending waves. Read More

Recent observations have shown that in many exoplanetary systems the spin axis of the parent star is misaligned with the planet's orbital axis. These have been used to argue against the scenario that short-period planets migrated to their present-day locations due to tidal interactions with their natal discs. However, this interpretation is based on the assumption that the spins of young stars are parallel to the rotation axes of protostellar discs around them. Read More

The spin of black holes in black hole-neutron star (BHNS) binaries can have a strong influence on the merger dynamics and the postmerger state; a wide variety of spin magnitudes and orientations are expected to occur in nature. In this paper, we report the first simulations in full general relativity of BHNS mergers with misaligned black hole spin. We vary the spin magnitude from a/m=0 to a/m=0. Read More

The merger dynamics of a black hole-neutron star (BHNS) binary is influenced by the neutron star equation of state (EoS) through the latter's effect on the neutron star's radius and on the character of the mass transfer onto the black hole. We study these effects by simulating a number of BHNS binaries in full general relativity using a mixed pseudospectral/finite difference code. We consider several models of the neutron star matter EoS, including Gamma=2 and Gamma=2. Read More

We present a code for solving the coupled Einstein-hydrodynamics equations to evolve relativistic, self-gravitating fluids. The Einstein field equations are solved in generalized harmonic coordinates on one grid using pseudospectral methods, while the fluids are evolved on another grid using shock-capturing finite difference or finite volume techniques. We show that the code accurately evolves equilibrium stars and accretion flows. Read More

We present a new numerical scheme to solve the initial value problem for black hole-neutron star binaries. This method takes advantage of the flexibility and fast convergence of a multidomain spectral representation of the initial data to construct high-accuracy solutions at a relatively low computational cost. We provide convergence tests of the method for both isolated neutron stars and irrotational binaries. Read More