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It is a weird and unlikely circumstance that a collapse supernova (Type II) should explode. The peculiar mechanism that facilitates this explosion is the formation and preservation of large scale structures in a high entropy atmosphere residing on the surface of a nearly formed neutron star. The high entropy atmosphere is maintained by two sources: the gravitational energy of initial formation of the neutron star, released by diffusion and transport of neutrinos and secondly and possibly dominantly by the gravitational energy released at the suface by additional low entropy matter falling through to the neutron star surface. The preservation of this entropy contrast between up and down flows requires thermal isolation between the low entropy down flows and the high entropy up flows. This entropy contrast allows an efficient Carnot cycle to operate and thus allows the efficient conversion of thermal energy to mechanical, which in turn drives the explosion. The P-V diagram of various up and down going mass elements in the calculations demonstrates the existence of the cycle and its efficiency. Greater thermal isolation should occur in 3-D as opposed to 2-D calculations because of the difference in relative thickness or surface to mass ratio for the same mass flow in 2 and 3-D. This may explain the observed stronger explosion in 3-D calculations.
This paper is written in honor of a long and lasting friendship between Craig Wheeler and the first author for more than half his current life.
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