Relativistic heat conduction
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Relativistic heat conduction refers to the modelling of heat conduction (and similar diffusion processes) in a way compatible with special relativity. This article discusses models using a wave equation with a dissipative term.
where θ is temperature, t is time, α = k/(ρ c) is thermal diffusivity, k is thermal conductivity, ρ is density, and c is specific heat capacity. The Laplace operator,, is defined in Cartesian coordinates as
This Fourier equation can be derived by substituting Fourier’s linear approximation of the heat flux vector, q, as a function of temperature gradient,
into the first law of thermodynamics
where the del operator, ∇, is defined in 3D as
It can be shown that this definition of the heat flux vector also satisfies the second law of thermodynamics,
where s is specific entropy and σ is entropy production.
It is well known that the Fourier equation (and the more general Fick's law of diffusion) is incompatible with the theory of relativity for at least one reason: it admits infinite speed of propagation of heat signals within the continuum field. For example, consider a pulse of heat at the origin; then according to Fourier equation, it is felt (i.e. temperature changes) at any distant point, instantaneously. The speed of information propagation is faster than the speed of light in vacuum, which is inadmissible within the framework of relativity.
Mathematically, it is the same as the telegrapher's equation, which is derived from Maxwell’s equations of electrodynamics.
For the HHC equation to remain compatible with the first law of thermodynamics, it is necessary to modify the definition of heat flux vector, q, to
where is a relaxation time, such that
The most important implication of the hyperbolic equation is that by switching from a parabolic (dissipative) to a hyperbolic (includes a conservative term) partial differential equation, there is the possibility of phenomena such as thermal resonance and thermal shock waves.
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- Some authors also use T, φ,...
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