Chromospheric Models and the Oxygen Abundance in Giant Stars

Dupree, A. K.; Avrett, E. H.; Kurucz, R. L.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Realistic stellar atmospheric models of two typical metal-poor giant stars in Omega Centauri, which include a chromosphere (CHR), influence the formation of optical lines of O I: the forbidden lines (λ6300, λ6363) and the infrared triplet (λλ7771−7775). One-dimensional semi-empirical non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) models are constructed based on observed Balmer lines. A full non-LTE formulation is applied for evaluating the line strengths of O I, including photoionization by the Lyman continuum and photoexcitation by Lyα and Lyβ. Chromospheric models (CHR) yield forbidden oxygen transitions that are stronger than those in radiative/convective equilibrium (RCE) models. The triplet oxygen lines from high levels also appear stronger than those produced in an RCE model. The inferred oxygen abundance from realistic CHR models for these two stars is decreased by factors of ~3 as compared to values derived from RCE models. A lower oxygen abundance suggests that intermediate-mass AGB stars contribute to the observed abundance pattern in globular clusters. A change in the oxygen abundance of metal-poor field giants could affect models of deep mixing episodes on the red giant branch. Changes in the oxygen abundance can impact other abundance determinations that are critical to astrophysics, including chemical tagging techniques and galactic chemical evolution.

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