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Session 7 - Gas and Dust in the ISM.
Display session, Monday, June 10
We propose a new diagnostics of isotope abundance ratios and electron densities for low density plasmas, in the form of J = 0 \rightarrow J^\prime = 0 radiative transitions. These are usually viewed as being allowed only through two-photon decay, but they may also be induced by the hyperfine (HPF) interaction in atomic ions. This predicts a companion line to the E1] and M2 lines in the UV0.01 multiplet of ions isoelectronic to beryllium (e.g. C III, N IV, O V and Fe XXII) or magnesium (e.g. Si II, Ca IX, Fe XV and Ni XVII). As an example the companion line to the well known \lambda\lambda 1906.7,1908.7 lines in C III will be at 1909.597 Åbut only present in the ^13C isotope (which has nuclear spin different from zero). We present new and accurate decay rates for the nsnp ^3\!P^o_J\rightarrow ns^2 ^1\!S_J^\prime=0 transitions in ions of the Be (n=2) and Mg (n=3) isoelectronic sequences. We show that the HPF induced decay rates for the J = 0 \rightarrow J^\prime = 0 transitions are many orders of magnitude larger than those for the competing two-photon processes and, when present, are typically one or two orders of magnitude smaller than the decay rates of the magnetic quadrupole ( J = 2\rightarrow J^\prime = 0) transitions for these ions.
We show that several of these HPF-induced transitions are of potential astrophysical interest, in ions of C, N, Na, Mg, Al, Si, K, Cr, Fe and Ni. We highlight those cases that may be of particular diagnostic value for determining isotopic abundance ratios and/or electron densities from UV or EUV emission line data. We present our atomic data in the form of scaling laws so that, given the isotopic nuclear spin and magnetic moment, a simple expression yields estimates for HPF induced decay rates. We examine some UV solar and nebular data in the light of these new results and suggest possible cases for future study. We could not find evidence for the existence of HPF induced lines in the spectra we examined, but we demonstrate that existing data have come close to providing interesting upper limits. For the planetary nebula SMC N2 we derive an upper limit of ^13C/^12C of 0.1 from GHRS data obtained by Clegg. It is likely that more stringent limits could be obtained with newer data with higher sensitivities in a variety of objects.
Program listing for Monday