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Astron. Astrophys. 363, 1091-1105 (2000)

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Self-broadening in Balmer line wing formation in stellar atmospheres

P.S. Barklem 1, N. Piskunov 1 and B.J. O'Mara 2

1 Uppsala Astronomical Observatory, Box 515, 751-20 Uppsala, Sweden
2 Department of Physics, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, 4072, Australia

Received 7 July 2000 / Accepted 2 October 2000


Details of a theory of self-broadening of hydrogen lines are presented. The main features of the new theory are that the dispersive-inductive components of the interaction (van der Waals forces) have been included, and the resonance components have been computed by perturbation theory without the use of the multipole expansion. The theory is applied to lower Balmer lines and the theoretical and observational impact of the new broadening theory is examined. It is shown that this theory leads to considerable differences in the predicted line profiles in cool stars when compared with previous theories which include only resonance interactions. In particular, the effect is found to be very important in metal poor stars. The theory provides a natural explanation for the behaviour of effective temperatures derived from Balmer lines by others using a theory which includes only resonance broadening. When applied to Balmer lines in the solar spectrum the theory predicts an improved agreement between observed and computed profiles for models which also match limb darkening curves and rules out a model which does not. However significant discrepancies still remain which could be due to inadequacies in our theory or the atmospheric model or both.

Key words: atomic processes – line: profiles – stars: atmospheres

Send offprint requests to: P.S. Barklem, (barklem@astro.uu.se)

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: December 5, 2000