Discontinuities in numerical radiative transfer
Istituto Ricerche Solari Locarno (IRSOL), 6605 Locarno-Monti, Switzerland
2 Seminar for Applied Mathematics (SAM) ETHZ, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
Accepted: 27 November 2018
Observations and magnetohydrodynamic simulations of solar and stellar atmospheres reveal an intermittent behavior or steep gradients in physical parameters, such as magnetic field, temperature, and bulk velocities. The numerical solution of the stationary radiative transfer equation is particularly challenging in such situations, because standard numerical methods may perform very inefficiently in the absence of local smoothness. However, a rigorous investigation of the numerical treatment of the radiative transfer equation in discontinuous media is still lacking. The aim of this work is to expose the limitations of standard convergence analyses for this problem and to identify the relevant issues. Moreover, specific numerical tests are performed. These show that discontinuities in the atmospheric physical parameters effectively induce first-order discontinuities in the radiative transfer equation, reducing the accuracy of the solution and thwarting high-order convergence. In addition, a survey of the existing numerical schemes for discontinuous ordinary differential systems and interpolation techniques for discontinuous discrete data is given, evaluating their applicability to the radiative transfer problem.
Key words: radiative transfer / methods: numerical / polarization
© ESO 2019