Universality and intermittency in relativistic turbulent flows of a hot plasma

David Radice, Luciano Rezzolla

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28 Scopus citations


With the aim of determining the statistical properties of relativistic turbulence and unveiling novel and non-classical features, we present the results of direct numerical simulations of driven turbulence in an ultrarelativistic hot plasma using high-order numerical schemes. We study the statistical properties of flows with average Mach numbers ranging from 0.4 to 1.7 and with average Lorentz factors up to 1.7. We find that flow quantities, such as the energy density or the local Lorentz factor, show large spatial variance even in the subsonic case as compressibility is enhanced by relativistic effects. The velocity field is highly intermittent, but its power spectrum is found to be in good agreement with the predictions of the classical theory of Kolmogorov. Overall, our results indicate that relativistic effects are able to significantly enhance the intermittency of the flow and affect the high-order statistics of the velocity field, while leaving unchanged the low-order statistics, which instead appear to be universal and in good agreement with the classical Kolmogorov theory. To the best of our knowledge, these are the most accurate simulations of driven relativistic turbulence to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL10
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 20 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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