PhD Defense by Laurie Walk

Exploring core-collapse supernovae through neutrinos

Abstract: Core-collapse supernovae are amongst the brightest objects in the sky. The physical mechanism driving the explosion of these energetic transients is still subject of debate. The aim of this PhD work has been to investigate the dynamics, properties, and detectability of core-collapse supernovae using neutrinos as primary probes. Due to their weakly interacting nature, neutrinos produced in core-collapse supernovae carry unique signatures of the collapsing stellar core as they propagate to Earth. During this PhD defense, I will present original research devoted to advancing our fundamental understanding of core-collapse supernova physics, while simultaneously developing methods for detecting theoretically predicted phenomena. Specifically, I will show how we can employ the neutrino emission from state-of-the-art three-dimensional simulations of stellar collapses to study hydrodynamical instabilities in the accretion phase, constrain the effect of progenitor rotation on the development of these instabilities, and identify unique features of black hole formation. Furthermore, the detectability prospects of these phenomena are quantified by predicting the observable neutrino signal in current and future neutrino detectors. I will also compare the stability of an accretion shock in two analytical progenitor toy models of different geometries and discuss the role of angular momentum on the growth rate of unstable eigenmodes. In summary, I will demonstrate the powerful potential of using neutrinos as probes of core-collapse supernovae.

Laurie’s thesis will be available on the NBI website here: