On validating an astrophysical simulation code

A. C. Calder, B. Fryxell, T. Plewa, R. Rosner, L. J. Dursi, V. G. Weirs, T. Dupont, H. F. Robey, J. O. Kane, B. A. Remington, R. P. Drake, G. Dimonte, M. Zingale, F. X. Timmes, K. Olson, P. Ricker, P. Macneice, H. M. Tufo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


We present a case study of validating an astrophysical simulation code. Our study focuses on validating FLASH, a parallel, adaptive-mesh hydrodynamics code for studying the compressible, reactive flows found in many astrophysical environments. We describe the astrophysics problems of interest and the challenges associated with simulating these problems. We describe methodology and discuss solutions to difficulties encountered in verification and validation. We describe verification tests regularly administered to the code, present the results of new verification tests, and outline a method for testing general equations of state. We present the results of two validation tests in which we compared simulations to experimental data. The first is of a laser-driven shock propagating through a multilayer target, a configuration subject to both Rayleigh-Taylor and Richtmyer-Meshkov instabilities. The second test is a classic Rayleigh-Taylor instability, where a heavy fluid is supported against the force of gravity by a light fluid. Our simulations of the multilayer target experiments showed good agreement with the experimental results, but our simulations of the Rayleigh-Taylor instability did not agree well with the experimental results. We discuss our findings and present results of additional simulations undertaken to further investigate the Rayleigh-Taylor instability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-229
Number of pages29
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Instabilities
  • Methods: numerical
  • Shock waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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