Davis, Shane W.; Jiang, Yan-Fei; Stone, James M.; Murray, Norman
We perform multidimensional radiation hydrodynamics simulations to study the impact of radiation forces on atmospheres composed of dust and gas. Our setup closely follows that of Krumholz & Thompson, assuming that dust and gas are well-coupled and that the radiation field is characterized by blackbodies with temperatures >~ 80 K, as might be found in ultraluminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs). In agreement with previous work, we find that Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities develop in radiation supported atmospheres, leading to inhomogeneities that limit momentum exchange between radiation and dusty gas, and eventually providing a near balance of the radiation and gravitational forces. However, the evolution of the velocity and spatial distributions of the gas differs significantly from previous work, which utilized a less accurate flux-limited diffusion (FLD) method. Our variable Eddington tensor simulations show continuous net acceleration of the gas and never reach a steady state. In contrast, our FLD results show little net acceleration of the gas and settle into a quasi-steady, turbulent state with low velocity dispersion. The discrepancies result primarily from the inability of FLD to properly model the variation of the radiation field around structures that are less than a few optical depths across. We consider the effect of varying the optical depth and study the differences between two-dimensional and three-dimensional runs. We conclude that radiation feedback remains a plausible mechanism for driving high-Mach number turbulence in ULIRGs with sufficiently high optical depths. We discuss implications for observed systems and galactic-scale numerical simulations of feedback.