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Title: H β and H γ Absorption-line Profile Inconsistencies in Laboratory Experiments Performed at White Dwarf Photosphere Conditions

Abstract

The spectroscopic method relies on hydrogen Balmer absorption lines to infer white dwarf (WD) masses. These masses depend on the choice of atmosphere model, hydrogen atomic line shape calculation, and which Balmer series members are included in the spectral fit. In addition to those variables, spectroscopic masses disagree with those derived using other methods. Here we present laboratory experiments aimed at investigating the main component of the spectroscopic method: hydrogen line shape calculations. These experiments use X-rays from Sandia National Laboratories’ Z-machine to create a uniform ~15 cm 3 hydrogen plasma and a ~4 eV backlighter that enables recording high-quality absorption spectra. The large plasma, volumetric X-ray heating that fosters plasma uniformity, and the ability to collect absorption spectra at WD photosphere conditions are improvements over past laboratory experiments. Analysis of the experimental absorption spectra reveals that electron density (n e) values derived from the Hγ line are ~34% ± 7.3% lower than from Hβ. Two potential systematic errors that may contribute to this difference were investigated. A detailed evaluation of self-emission and plasma gradients shows that these phenomena are unlikely to produce any measurable Hβ–Hγ n e difference. WD masses inferred with the spectroscopic method are proportional to themore » photosphere density. Hence, the measured Hβ–Hγ n e difference is qualitatively consistent with the trend that WD masses inferred from their Hβ line are higher than that resulting from the analysis of Hβ and Hγ. In conclusion, this evidence may suggest that current hydrogen line shape calculations are not sufficiently accurate to capture the intricacies of the Balmer series.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [3]
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States); The Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (United States). Astronomy Dept.
  2. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  3. The Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (United States). Dept. of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
The Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1574124
Grant/Contract Number:  
NA0003843
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: The Astrophysical Journal (Online); Journal Volume: 885; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357
Publisher:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY

Citation Formats

Schaeuble, M. -A., Nagayama, T., Bailey, J. E., Gomez, T. A., Montgomery, M. H., and Winget, D. E. Hβ and Hγ Absorption-line Profile Inconsistencies in Laboratory Experiments Performed at White Dwarf Photosphere Conditions. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab479d.
Schaeuble, M. -A., Nagayama, T., Bailey, J. E., Gomez, T. A., Montgomery, M. H., & Winget, D. E. Hβ and Hγ Absorption-line Profile Inconsistencies in Laboratory Experiments Performed at White Dwarf Photosphere Conditions. United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab479d.
Schaeuble, M. -A., Nagayama, T., Bailey, J. E., Gomez, T. A., Montgomery, M. H., and Winget, D. E. Fri . "Hβ and Hγ Absorption-line Profile Inconsistencies in Laboratory Experiments Performed at White Dwarf Photosphere Conditions". United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab479d.
@article{osti_1574124,
title = {Hβ and Hγ Absorption-line Profile Inconsistencies in Laboratory Experiments Performed at White Dwarf Photosphere Conditions},
author = {Schaeuble, M. -A. and Nagayama, T. and Bailey, J. E. and Gomez, T. A. and Montgomery, M. H. and Winget, D. E.},
abstractNote = {The spectroscopic method relies on hydrogen Balmer absorption lines to infer white dwarf (WD) masses. These masses depend on the choice of atmosphere model, hydrogen atomic line shape calculation, and which Balmer series members are included in the spectral fit. In addition to those variables, spectroscopic masses disagree with those derived using other methods. Here we present laboratory experiments aimed at investigating the main component of the spectroscopic method: hydrogen line shape calculations. These experiments use X-rays from Sandia National Laboratories’ Z-machine to create a uniform ~15 cm3 hydrogen plasma and a ~4 eV backlighter that enables recording high-quality absorption spectra. The large plasma, volumetric X-ray heating that fosters plasma uniformity, and the ability to collect absorption spectra at WD photosphere conditions are improvements over past laboratory experiments. Analysis of the experimental absorption spectra reveals that electron density (ne) values derived from the Hγ line are ~34% ± 7.3% lower than from Hβ. Two potential systematic errors that may contribute to this difference were investigated. A detailed evaluation of self-emission and plasma gradients shows that these phenomena are unlikely to produce any measurable Hβ–Hγ ne difference. WD masses inferred with the spectroscopic method are proportional to the photosphere density. Hence, the measured Hβ–Hγ ne difference is qualitatively consistent with the trend that WD masses inferred from their Hβ line are higher than that resulting from the analysis of Hβ and Hγ. In conclusion, this evidence may suggest that current hydrogen line shape calculations are not sufficiently accurate to capture the intricacies of the Balmer series.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-4357/ab479d},
journal = {The Astrophysical Journal (Online)},
number = 1,
volume = 885,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {11}
}

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