Implementation of Monte-Carlo transport in the general relativistic SpEC code

Francois Foucart, Matthew D. Duez, Francois Hebert, Lawrence E. Kidder, Harald P. Pfeiffer, Mark A. Scheel.


Neutrino transport and neutrino-matter interactions are known to play an important role in the evolution of neutron star mergers, and of their post-merger remnants. Neutrinos cool remnants, drive post-merger winds, and deposit energy in the low-density polar regions where relativistic jets may eventually form. Neutrinos also modify the composition of the ejected material, impacting the outcome of nucleosynthesis in merger outflows and the properties of the optical/infrared transients that they power (kilonovae). So far, merger simulations have largely relied on approximate treatments of the neutrinos (leakage, moments) that simplify the equations of radiation transport in a way that makes simulations more affordable, but also introduces unquantifiable errors in the results. To improve on these methods, we recently published a first simulation of neutron star mergers using a low-cost Monte-Carlo algorithm for neutrino radiation transport. Our transport code limits costs in optically thick regions by placing a hard ceiling on the value of the absorption opacity of the fluid, yet all approximations made within the code are designed to vanish in the limit of infinite numerical resolution. We provide here an in-depth description of this algorithm, of its implementation in the SpEC merger code, and of the expected impact of our approximations in optically thick regions. We argue that the latter is a subdominant source of error at the accuracy reached by current simulations, and for the interactions currently included in our code. We also provide tests of the most important features of this code.