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Astron. Astrophys. 329, 1045-1058 (1998)

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Photospheric metals in hot DA white dwarfs*

B. Wolff 1, D. Koester 1, S. Dreizler 2 and S. Haas 3

1 Institut für Theoretische Physik und Astrophysik, Universität Kiel, D-24098 Kiel, Germany (koester,wolff@astrophysik.uni-kiel.de)
2 Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Universität Tübingen, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany (dreizler@astro.uni-tuebingen.de)
3 Dr.-Remeis-Sternwarte, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Sternwartstr. 7, D-96049 Bamberg, Germany

Received 21 July 1997 / Accepted 9 September 1997


Previous observations of the soft X-ray and EUV region with the Einstein, EXOSAT, and ROSAT satellites have indicated the presence of photospheric absorbers in most DA white dwarfs with [FORMULA] K. Several of these objects have now been observed with the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE). Since the detection of individual metal lines is rather difficult with EUVE spectra we chose the well studied DA G 191-B2B as reference object for the analysis of other white dwarfs. In spectra obtained with the GHRS of the Hubble Space Telescope photospheric lines of nitrogen, silicon, iron, and nickel could be detected. With the abundances determined from these observations we were able to reproduce the EUVE spectrum of G 191-B2B. The main source of EUV opacity turned out to be iron, followed by nickel. The analysis of both the EUV continuum and the hydrogen Balmer lines led to [FORMULA] K. For the analysis of other DA white dwarfs we used the same relative abundances as for G 191-B2B but introduced a free scaling factor ("metallicity") for the total amount of metals. From EUVE spectra we determined relative metallicities for 20 objects with [FORMULA] K. The main result is that all DAs with [FORMULA] K contain additional photospheric absorbers, whereas at lower temperatures all observations, with the exception of GD 394, are compatible with pure hydrogen atmospheres. As in the case of G 191-B2B, iron determines also the EUV opacity in the objects at [FORMULA] K. This is in agreement with radiative levitation theory which predicts the support of iron above this temperature.

Key words: white dwarfs – stars: abundances – stars: atmospheres – ultraviolet: stars

* Based on observations with the HST and EUVE satellites, and on optical spectra obtained at the DSAZ Calar Alto

Send offprint requests to: B. Wolff

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: December 16, 1997