Volume 557, September 2013
|Number of page(s)||15|
|Section||Numerical methods and codes|
|Published online||25 September 2013|
PORTA: A three-dimensional multilevel radiative transfer code for modeling the intensity and polarization of spectral lines with massively parallel computers
1 Astronomical Institute ASCR, v.v.i., Ondřejov, Czech Republic
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, vía Láctea s/n, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna (ULL), 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
4 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain
Received: 19 April 2013
Accepted: 17 July 2013
The interpretation of the intensity and polarization of the spectral line radiation produced in the atmosphere of the Sun and of other stars requires solving a radiative transfer problem that can be very complex, especially when the main interest lies in modeling the spectral line polarization produced by scattering processes and the Hanle and Zeeman effects. One of the difficulties is that the plasma of a stellar atmosphere can be highly inhomogeneous and dynamic, which implies the need to solve the non-equilibrium problem of the generation and transfer of polarized radiation in realistic three-dimensional (3D) stellar atmospheric models. Here we present PORTA, an efficient multilevel radiative transfer code we have developed for the simulation of the spectral line polarization caused by scattering processes and the Hanle and Zeeman effects in 3D models of stellar atmospheres. The numerical method of solution is based on the non-linear multigrid iterative method and on a novel short-characteristics formal solver of the Stokes-vector transfer equation which uses monotonic Bézier interpolation. Therefore, with PORTA the computing time needed to obtain at each spatial grid point the self-consistent values of the atomic density matrix (which quantifies the excitation state of the atomic system) scales linearly with the total number of grid points. Another crucial feature of PORTA is its parallelization strategy, which allows us to speed up the numerical solution of complicated 3D problems by several orders of magnitude with respect to sequential radiative transfer approaches, given its excellent linear scaling with the number of available processors. The PORTA code can also be conveniently applied to solve the simpler 3D radiative transfer problem of unpolarized radiation in multilevel systems.
Key words: line: formation / magnetic fields / methods: numerical / polarization / radiative transfer
© ESO, 2013
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