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Session 39 - Curriculum in Crisis: Reinventing Stellar Astrophysics for Today's Graduate Student.
Display session, Tuesday, June 11
Tripp Commons,

[39.04] 2-D Inhomogeneous Modeling of the Solar CO Bands

T. R. Ayres (CASA/U.Colorado)

The recent discovery of off-limb emissions in the mid-IR (\sim 5 \mum) vibration-rotation bands of solar carbon monoxide (CO) has sparked new interest in the formation of the molecular lines, and their ability to diagnose thermal conditions at high altitudes. The off-limb extensions of the strong CO lines indicate the penetration of cool material (T \sim 3500 K) several hundred kilometers into the otherwise hot (T \sim 6000 K) chromosphere. The origin of the cool gas, and its role in the thermal energy balance, remain controversial. The interpretation of the CO observations must rely heavily upon numerical modeling, in particular highly-inhomogeneous thermal structures arrayed in a 2-D scheme that can properly treat the geometry of the grazing rays at the solar limb. The radiation transport, itself, is especially simple for the CO off-limb emissions, because the fundamental bands form quite close to LTE (high collision rates; low spontaneous decay rates) and the background continuum is purely thermal as well (f--f\/ transitions in H^- and H). Thus, the geometrical aspects of the problem can be treated in considerably more detail than would be practical for typical NLTE scattering lines.

I describe the recent modeling efforts, and the diagnostic potential of the CO bands for future observational studies of inhomogeneous surface structure on the Sun, and on other stars of late spectral type.

This work was supported by NSF grant AST-9218063 to the University of Colorado.

Program listing for Tuesday