Line broadening and the solar opacity problem

Krief, M., Feigel, A.; Gazit, D.

The Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University, 91904 Jerusalem, Israel

The calculation of line widths constitutes theoretical and computational challenges in the calculation of opacities of hot dense plasmas. Opacity models use line broadening approximations that are untested at stellar interior conditions. Moreover, calculations of atomic spectra of the sun, indicate a large discrepancy in the K-shell line widths between several atomic codes and the OP. In this work, the atomic code STAR is used to study the sensitivity of solar opacities to line-broadening. Variations in the solar opacity profile, due to an increase of the Stark widths resulting from discrepancies with OP, are compared, in light of the solar opacity problem, with the required opacity variations of the present day sun, as imposed by helioseismic and neutrino observations. The resulting variation profile, is much larger than the discrepancy between different atomic codes, agrees qualitatively with the missing opacity profile, recovers about half of the missing opacity nearby the convection boundary and has a little effect in the internal regions. Since it is hard to estimate quantitatively the uncertainty in the Stark widths, we show that an increase of all line widths by a factor of about 100 recovers quantitatively the missing opacity. These results emphasize the possibility that photoexcitation processes are not modeled properly, and more specifically, highlight the need for a better theoretical characterization of the line broadening phenomena at stellar interior conditions and of the uncertainty due to the way it is implemented by atomic codes.

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