Impacts of a power-law non-thermal electron tail on the ionization and recombination rates
CEA/DSM/DAPNIA, Service d'Astrophysique, C.E. Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
Corresponding author: D. Porquet, email@example.com
Accepted: 27 April 2001
We have investigated the effects of a non-thermal electron population on the ionization and recombination rates. The considered electron distribution is defined as a Maxwellian function below a break energy Eb and as a power-law function of index α above this energy. We have calculated the collisional (direct and excitation autoionization) ionization coefficient rates as well as the (radiative and dielectronic) recombination rates. Practical methods are given to calculate these rates in order to be easily included in a computer code. The ionization rates are very sensitive to the non-thermal electron population and can be increased by several orders of magnitude depending on the temperature and parameters of the power-law function (Eb and α). The non-thermal electrons have a much weaker effect on the (radiative and dielectronic) recombination rates. We have determined the mean electric charge of elements C, N, O, Ne, Mg, Si, S, Ar, Ca, Fe and Ni for different values of the break energy and power-law index. The ionization balance is affected significantly, whereas the effect is smaller in ionizing plasmas.
Key words: acceleration of particles / atomic data / atomic processes / radiation mechanisms: non / thermal / shock waves / ISM: supernova remnants
© ESO, 2001