Volume 529, May 2011
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Published online||22 April 2011|
3D LTE spectral line formation with scattering in red giant stars
Max Planck Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85741
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Cotter Road, Weston Creek 2611, Australia
3 Astrophysics Group, School of Physics, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QL, UK
4 Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
Received: 17 September 2010
Accepted: 21 March 2011
Aims. We investigate the effects of coherent isotropic continuum scattering on the formation of spectral lines in local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) using 3D hydrodynamical and 1D hydrostatic model atmospheres of red giant stars.
Methods. Detailed radiative transfer with coherent and isotropic continuum scattering is computed for 3D hydrodynamical and 1D hydrostatic models of late-type stellar atmospheres using the SCATE code. Opacities are computed in LTE, while a coherent and isotropic scattering term is added to the continuum source function. We investigate the effects of scattering by comparing continuum flux levels, spectral line profiles and curves of growth for different species with calculations that treat scattering as absorption.
Results. Rayleigh scattering is the dominant source of scattering opacity in the continuum of red giant stars. Photons may escape from deeper, hotter layers through scattering, resulting in significantly higher continuum flux levels beneath a wavelength of λ ≲ 5000 Å. The magnitude of the effect is determined by the importance of scattering opacity with respect to absorption opacity; we observe the largest changes in continuum flux at the shortest wavelengths and lowest metallicities; intergranular lanes of 3D models are more strongly affected than granules. Continuum scattering acts to increase the profile depth of LTE lines: continua gain more brightness than line cores due to their larger thermalization depth in hotter layers. We thus observe the strongest changes in line depth for high-excitation species and ionized species, which contribute significantly to photon thermalization through their absorption opacity near the continuum optical surface. Scattering desaturates the line profiles, leading to larger abundance corrections for stronger lines, which reach −0.5 dex at 3000 Å for Fe ii lines in 3D with excitation potential χ = 2 eV at [Fe/H] = −3.0. The corrections are less severe for low-excitation lines, longer wavelengths, and higher metallicity. Velocity fields increase the effects of scattering by separating emission from granules and intergranular lanes in wavelength. 1D calculations exhibit similar scattering abundance corrections for weak lines, but those for strong lines are generally smaller compared to 3D models and depend on the choice of microturbulence.
Conclusions. Continuum scattering should be taken into account for computing realistic spectral line profiles at wavelengths λ ≲ 4000 Å in metal-poor giant stars. Profile shapes are strongly affected by velocity fields and horizontal inhomogeneities, requiring a treatment based on 3D hydrodynamical rather than classical 1D hydrostatic model atmospheres.
Key words: radiative transfer / stars: atmospheres / line: formation
© ESO, 2011
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