AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 31 Highlights in Laboratory Astrophysics
Topical Session, Wednesday, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, 2:30-4:00pm, 4:15-6:00pm, June 1, 2005, 102 D

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[31.22] Measurements of Electron-Impact Ionization Relevant for Astrophysics

M. E. Bannister (ORNL)

For many cosmic plasmas, such as are formed in supernova remnants, stellar coronae, the interstellar medium (ISM), the intracluster medium in clusters of galaxies, and elliptical galaxies, electron impact ionization (EII) is the dominant ionization mechanism. Spectroscopic data produced by an array of past, present, and future satellite spectroscopic observatories are being used to address many fundamental questions in astrophysics. Analyzing the collected spectra from electron-ionized plasmas, however, requires accurate ionization balance calculations for plasmas in collisional ionization equilibrium (CIE) as well as plasmas under conditions of non-equilibrium ionization (NEI). Therefore accurate EII data are needed for ions found in these astrophysical environments. Here we report on recent laboratory measurements of EII at the ORNL Multicharged Ion Research Facility for selected ions in the berylliumlike isoelectronic sequence. These results are compared with state-of-the-art non-perturbative calculations for these ions. This systematic investigation of EII will continue with measurements on heliumlike and oxygenlike ions. For these isoelectronic sequences there appear to be significant errors and uncertainties in the EII data, primarily due to uncertainty in the fraction of metastable ions encountered in prior measurements. By determining the metastable ion fractions independent of the ionization experiments, our measurements will provide new EII data with uncertainties of 15% or less.

This material is based upon work supported by NASA under Award Nos. NNH04AA151 and NNH04AA72I and by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with UT-Battelle, LLC.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
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