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Astron. Astrophys. 322, 266-279 (1997)

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The Na I [FORMULA] 5890,5896 resonance doublet as chromospheric diagnostics in M dwarfs

V. Andretta 1, 2, J.G. Doyle 2 and P.B. Byrne 2

1 Current Address: NASA/GSFC, Laboratory for Astronomy and Solar Physics, Code 682, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
2 Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, Northern Ireland (andretta@gsfc.nasa.gov, jgd@star.arm.ac.uk, pbb@star.arm.ac.uk)

Received 12 August 1996 / Accepted 22 November 1996


The Na I D lines at 5890/5896 Å are very prominent features in the spectrum of late-type stars. Nevertheless, little attention has been devoted to the potential use of those lines as chromospheric diagnostics. As a case study, we explore the dependence on chromospheric activity of the D lines in a star with [FORMULA]  K, [FORMULA] and solar metallicity. The results are compared with the better studied hydrogen spectrum. We find that the D lines seem to be a promising diagnostic of the lower-middle chromosphere, that can complement the information given by lines like H [FORMULA]. We also find that, for detailed quantitative studies, it is necessary to include a proper treatment of the background opacities. Less important, instead, is the need of careful treatment of transitions induced by collisions with hydrogen atoms. Finally, our calculations make it clear that, for the most active stars, the level of coronal emission should also be taken into account.

Key words: stars: late-type – stars: activity – stars: chromospheres – line: formation – radiative transfer

Send offprint requests to: V. Andretta

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: June 30, 1998