On the complexity and the information content of cosmic structures [CEA]


The emergence of cosmic structure is commonly considered one of the most complex phenomena in Nature. However, this complexity has never been defined nor measured in a quantitative and objective way. In this work we propose a method to measure the information content of cosmic structure and to quantify the complexity that emerges from it, based on Information Theory. The emergence of complex evolutionary patterns is studied with a statistical symbolic analysis of the datastream produced by state-of-the-art cosmological simulations of forming galaxy clusters. This powerful approach allows us to measure how many bits of information are necessary to predict the evolution of energy fields in a statistical way, and it offers a simple way to quantify when, where and how the cosmic gas behaves in complex ways. The most complex behaviors are found in the peripheral regions of galaxy clusters, where supersonic flows drive shocks and large energy fluctuations over a few tens of million years. Describing the evolution of magnetic energy requires at least a twice as large amount of bits than for the other energy fields. When radiative cooling and feedback from galaxy formation are considered, the cosmic gas is overall found to double its degree of complexity. In the future, Cosmic Information Theory can significantly increase our understanding of the emergence of cosmic structure as it represents an innovative framework to design and analyze complex simulations of the Universe in a simple, yet powerful way.

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F. Vazza
Tue, 29 Nov 16

Comments: 15 pages, 14 figures. MNRAS accepted, in press

Near-exponential surface densities as hydrostatic, nonequilibrium profiles in galaxy discs [GA]


Apparent exponential surface density profiles are nearly universal in galaxy discs across Hubble types, over a wide mass range, and a diversity of gravitational potential forms. Several processes have been found to produce exponential profiles, including the actions of bars and spirals, and clump scattering, with star scattering a common theme in these. Based on reasonable physical constraints, such as minimal entropy gradients, we propose steady state distribution functions for disc stars, applicable over a range of gravitational potentials. The resulting surface density profiles are generally a power-law term times a Sersic-type exponential. Over a modest range of Sersic index values, these profiles are often indistinguishable from Type I exponentials, except at the innermost radii. However, in certain parameter ranges these steady states can appear as broken, Type II or III profiles. The corresponding velocity dispersion profiles are low order power-laws. A chemical potential associated with scattering can help understand the effects of long range scattering. The steady profiles are found to persist through constant velocity expansions or contractions in evolving discs. The proposed distributions and profiles are simple and solve the stellar hydrodynamic equations. They may be especially relevant to thick discs, which have settled to a steady form via scattering.

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C. Struck and B. Elmegreen
Thu, 29 Sep 16

Comments: 12 pages, 4 figures, no tables, accepted for the MNRAS

Universal Behavior of X-ray Flares from Black Hole Systems [HEAP]


X-ray flares have been discovered in black hole systems, such as gamma-ray bursts, the tidal disruption event Swift J1644+57, the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A$^*$ at the center of our Galaxy, and some active galactic nuclei. Their occurrences are always companied by relativistic jets. However, it is still unknown whether there is a physical analogy among such X-ray flares produced in black hole systems spanning nine orders of magnitude in mass. Here we report the observed data of X-ray flares, and show that they have three statistical properties similar to solar flares, including power-law distributions of energies, durations, and waiting times, which both can be explained by a fractal-diffusive self-organized criticality model. These statistical similarities, together with the fact that solar flares are triggered by a magnetic reconnection process, suggest that all of the X-ray flares are consistent with magnetic reconnection events, implying that their concomitant relativistic jets may be magnetically dominated.

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F. Wang, Z. Dai, S. Yi, et. al.
Tue, 18 Nov 14

Comments: 23 pages, 4 tables, 6 figures. Accepted for publication by ApJS

Self-organized criticality in a spherically closed cellular automaton: Modeling soft gamma repeater bursts driven by magnetic reconnection [HEAP]


A new cellular automaton (CA) model is presented for the self-organized criticality (SOC) in recurrent bursts of soft gamma repeaters (SGRs), which are interpreted as avalanches of reconnection in the magnetosphere of neutron stars. The nodes of a regular dodecahedron and a truncated icosahedron are adopted as spherically closed grids enclosing a neutron star. It is found that the system enters the SOC state if there are sites where the expectation value of the added perturbation is nonzero. The energy distributions of SOC avalanches in CA simulations are described by a power law with a cutoff, which is consistent with the observations of SGR 1806-20 and SGR 1900+14. The power-law index is not universal and depends on the amplitude of the perturbation. This result shows that the SOC of SGRs can be illustrated not only by the crust quake model but also by the magnetic reconnection model.

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K. Nakazato
Thu, 7 Aug 14

Comments: 6 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in PRD

Self-organisation and non-linear dynamics in driven magnetohydrodynamic turbulent flows [CL]


Magnetohydrodynamic turbulent flows driven by random mechanical and electromagnetic external forces of zero helicities are investigated by means of direct numerical simulations. It is shown that despite the absence of helicities in the forcing, the system is attracted to self-organized helical states that exhibit laminar behaviour despite the large value of the Reynolds numbers examined. We demonstrate that the correlation time of the external forces is controlling the time spent on these states, i.e. for short correlation times the system remains in the turbulent state while as the correlation time is increased the system spends more and more time in the self-organised states. As a result, time averaged statistics can significantly be affected by the time spent on these states. These results have important theoretical implications for the understanding of the suppression of non-linearities in plasma fusion devises as well as in astrophysical observations.

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V. Dallas and A. Alexakis
Fri, 13 Jun 14

Comments: 7 pages, 6 figures

The Habitable Zone of Inhabited Planets [EPA]


In this paper we discuss and illustrate the hypothesis that life substantially alters the state of a planetary environment and therefore, modifies the limits of the HZ as estimated for an uninhabited planet. This hypothesis lead to the introduction of the Habitable Zone for Inhabited planets (hereafter InHZ), defined here as the region where the complex interaction between life and its abiotic environment is able to produce plausible equilibrium states with the necessary physical conditions for the existence and persistence of life itself. We support our hypothesis of an InHZ with three theoretical arguments, multiple evidences coming from observations of the Earth system, several conceptual experiments and illustrative numerical simulations. Conceptually the diference between the InHZ and the Abiotic HZ (AHZ) depends on unique and robust properties of life as an emergent physical phenomenon and not necesarily on the particular life forms bearing in the planet. Our aim here is to provide conceptual basis for the development of InHZ models incorporating consistently life-environment interactions. Although previous authors have explored the effects of life on habitability there is a gap in research developing the reasons why life should be systematically included at determining the HZ limits. We do not provide here definitive limits to the InHZ but we show through simple numerical models (as a parable of an inhabited planet) how the limits of the AHZ could be modified by including plausible interactions between biota and its environment. These examples aim also at posing the question that if limits of the HZ could be modified by the presence of life in those simple dynamical systems how will those limits change if life is included in established models of the AHZ.

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J. Zuluaga, J. Salazar, P. Cuartas-Restrepo, et. al.
Tue, 20 May 14

Comments: Accepted for publication in Biogeosciences Discussion; 16 pages, 5 figures. Comments and discussion are welcomed at: this http URL

Spatiotemporal organization of energy release events in the quiet solar corona [SSA]


Using data from STEREO and SOHO spacecraft, we show that temporal organization of energy release events in the quiet solar corona is close to random, in contrast to the clustered behavior of flaring times in solar active regions. The locations of the quiet-Sun events follow the meso- and supergranulation pattern of the underling photosphere. Together with earlier reports of the scale-free event size statistics, our findings suggest that quiet solar regions responsible for bulk coronal heating operate in a driven self-organized critical state, possibly involving long-range Alfv\'{e}nic interactions.

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V. Uritsky and J. Davila
Mon, 7 Apr 14