EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 506, Number 3, November II 2009
Page(s) 1215 - 1228
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912602
Published online 03 September 2009
A&A 506, 1215-1228 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912602

The propagation of the shock wave from a strong explosion in a plane-parallel stratified medium: the Kompaneets approximation

C. A. Olano

Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas, Paseo del Bosque, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
    e-mail: colano@fcaglp.fcaglp.unlp.edu.ar

Received 29 May 2009 / Accepted 30 July 2009

Context. Using certain simplifications, Kompaneets derived a partial differential equation that states the local geometrical and kinematical conditions that each surface element of a shock wave, created by a point blast in a stratified gaseous medium, must satisfy. Kompaneets could solve his equation analytically for the case of a wave propagating in an exponentially stratified medium, obtaining the form of the shock front at progressive evolutionary stages. Complete analytical solutions of the Kompaneets equation for shock wave motion in further plane-parallel stratified media were not found, except for radially stratified media.
Aims. We aim to analytically solve the Kompaneets equation for the motion of a shock wave in different plane-parallel stratified media that can reflect a wide variety of astrophysical contexts. We were particularly interested in solving the Kompaneets equation for a strong explosion in the interstellar medium of the Galactic disk, in which, due to intense winds and explosions of stars, gigantic gaseous structures known as superbubbles and supershells are formed.
Methods. Using the Kompaneets approximation, we derived a pair of equations that we call adapted Kompaneets equations, that govern the propagation of a shock wave in a stratified medium and that permit us to obtain solutions in parametric form. The solutions provided by the system of adapted Kompaneets equations are equivalent to those of the Kompaneets equation. We solved the adapted Kompaneets equations for shock wave propagation in a generic stratified medium by means of a power-series method.
Results. Using the series solution for a shock wave in a generic medium, we obtained the series solutions for four specific media whose respective density distributions in the direction perpendicular to the stratification plane are of an exponential, power-law type (one with exponent k=-1 and the other with k =-2) and a quadratic hyperbolic-secant. From these series solutions, we deduced exact solutions for the four media in terms of elemental functions. The exact solution for shock wave propagation in a medium of quadratic hyperbolic-secant density distribution is very appropriate to describe the growth of superbubbles in the Galactic disk.

Key words: hydrodynamics -- shock waves -- Galaxy: disk -- ISM: bubbles -- ISM: supernova remnants

© ESO 2009