Weak Shock Propagation with Accretion. II. Stability of Self-similar Solutions to Radial Perturbations

Eric R. Coughlin, Stephen Ro, Eliot Quataert

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Coughlin et al. derived and analyzed a new regime of self-similarity that describes weak shocks (Mach number of order unity) in the gravitational field of a point mass. These solutions are relevant to low-energy explosions, including failed supernovae. In this paper, we develop a formalism for analyzing the stability of shocks to radial perturbations, and we demonstrate that the self-similar solutions of Paper I are extremely weakly unstable to such radial perturbations. Specifically, we show that perturbations to the shock velocity and post-shock fluid quantities (the velocity, density, and pressure) grow with time as t α ; interestingly, we find that α ,F≲ ,F0.12, implying that the 10-folding timescale of such perturbations is roughly 10 orders of magnitude in time. We confirm these predictions by performing high-resolution, time-dependent numerical simulations. Using the same formalism, we also show that the Sedov-Taylor blast wave is trivially stable to radial perturbations provided that the self-similar, Sedov-Taylor solutions extend to the origin, and we derive simple expressions for the perturbations to the post-shock velocity, density, and pressure. Finally, we show that there is a third, self-similar solution (in addition to the solutions in Paper I and the Sedov-Taylor solution) to the fluid equations that describes a rarefaction wave, i.e., an outward-propagating sound wave. We interpret the stability of shock propagation in light of these three distinct self-similar solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number58
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 20 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • hydrodynamics
  • methods: analytical
  • shock waves
  • supernovae: general


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