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The Open Source Physics Project is supported by NSF DUE-0442581.

Solar Photon Random Walk Documents

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Main Document

Solar Photon Random Walk 

written by Drew Onken

The Solar Photon Random Walk Model simulates the path of photons in radiative transport as they escape from the Sun. Photons do not travel in a straight line, but rather collide with larger particles and get redirected in a fashion. This simulation models that process using a random walk in polar coordinates. The step size for this random walk are determined by the mean free path, the average distance the photon will travel before colliding with another particle. This mean free path (l) is equal to the inverse of the product of the density (p) and the opacity (k): l = 1/(k*p). The density and opacity of the Sun are not constant throughout, but rather change at different distances from the center. However, these values are not agreed upon among the scientific community. Using different values of the mean free path, physicists give the average escape time of photons anywhere from between 100,000 years and 1,000,000 years. As a result, the program was designed not only to take into account a few different physicists' values (both average and linearly decreasing values) but it also allows the user to input their own values.

The Solar Photon Random Walk Model was developed as a final project in a sophomore-level Computational Physics course (Phy 200) using the Easy Java Simulations (EJS) modeling tool.  It is distributed as a ready-to-run (compiled) Java archive.  Double clicking the ejs_comp_phys_photon_random_walk.jar file will run the program if Java is installed.

Last Modified June 12, 2014

This file has previous versions.

Supplemental Documents (2)

Solar Photon Random Walk Statistics Model 

This model adds the feature of running numerous photons and compiling average statistics for these photons.

Published July 26, 2011
Last Modified July 26, 2011

Solar Photon Random Walk Poster 

Poster describing the Solar Photon Random Walk Model given as part of the Computational Physics class at Davidson College

Published July 26, 2011
Last Modified July 26, 2011

This file is included in the full-text index.

Source Code Documents

Solar Photon Random Walk Source Code 

Source Code for the Solar Photon Random Walk program.

Released under a This material is released under the GNU General Public License Version 3.

Published July 26, 2011
Last Modified July 26, 2011

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