A Light in the Dark: Radiation MHD Simulations of Astrophysical Systems
A detailed understanding of how radiation (i.e light) is emitted and transported is essential for the interpretation of astrophysical phenomenon. For years, magnetohydrodynamic simulations have provided key tools for understanding the dynamics of astrophysical systems, but the direct modeling of radiation has usually been neglected or implemented with crude approximations. These limitations have been particularly problematic in systems where the momentum in the radiation field becomes dynamically important. My collaborators and I have addressed these limitations by developing novel algorithms that enable first principles modeling of the radiation field in numerical simulations. I will present simulation results for supermassive black holes that are accreting mass at the rates found for most active galactic nuclei (AGN) and demonstrate how these simulations can help us understand the formation and structures of AGN coronae as well as variability recently found for change-look AGNs. I will also illustrate how these simulations can teach us new accretion physics that cannot be captured by the classical accretion disk models.