Nonequilibrium radiation and dissociation of CO molecules in shock-heated flows

R. L. Macdonald, A. Munafò, C. O. Johnston, M. Panesi

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This work addresses the study of the behavior of the excited electronic states of CO molecules in the nonequilibrium relaxation zone behind a normal shock for a CO2-N2 mixture representative of the Mars atmosphere. The hybrid state-to-state (StS) model developed accounts for thermal nonequilibrium between the translational energy mode of the gas and the vibrational energy mode of individual molecules. The electronic states of CO molecules are treated as separate species, allowing for non-Boltzmann distributions of their populations. The StS model is coupled with a nonequilibrium radiation solver, hpc-rad, allowing for the calculation of the radiation signature from the molecular and atomic species in the gas. This study focuses on the radiation from the fourth positive system of CO, which dominates the radiation heating on the forebody for higher speed Mars entry applications. In the rapidly dissociating regime behind strong shock waves, the population of the ground electronic state of CO [CO(X1ς)], departs from Maxwell-Boltzmann distributions, owing to the efficient collisional excitation to the electronically excited CO(A1Π) state. In general the assumption of the equilibrium between electronic and vibration fails when the excitation of electronic states is driven by heavy particles. The comparison of the radiation heating predictions obtained using the conventional quasi-steady-state (QSS) approach and the physics-based StS approach revealed differences in radiative heating predictions of up to 50%. These results demonstrate that the choice of nonequilibrium model can have a significant impact on radiative heating simulations, and more importantly, they cast serious doubts on the validity of the QSS assumption for the condition of interest to this work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043401
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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