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The structure of X-ray illuminated stellar atmospheres
London, R.; McCray, R.; Auer, L. H.
AA(Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.), AB(Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, Boulder, Colo.), AC(High Altitude Observatory, Boulder, Colo.)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1, vol. 243, Feb. 1, 1981, p. 970-982. NSF-supported research. (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Atmospheric Models, Binary Stars, Radiant Heating, Stellar Atmospheres, X Rays, Atmospheric Pressure, Atmospheric Temperature, Companion Stars, Emission Spectra, Neutron Stars, Photosphere, Stellar Structure, Thermodynamic Equilibrium, X Ray Stars
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The theory of X-ray illuminated stellar atmospheres in binary X-ray systems is described. Particular attention is directed to the location of the transition zone between the photosphere and the corona, which largely determines the mass flux in the evaporative wind caused by X-ray heating. A controversy in previous work concerning the effect of emission line cooling on this location is resolved. The lines are found to be optically thick, and they do not greatly affect the location of the transition region. Detailed NLTE stellar atmosphere models are constructed, including continuum radiation only. The pressure at the transition zone is proportional to the local X-ray heating rate, and the spectrum emitted by the atmosphere is nearly stellar, but with reduced continuum jumps. The mass loss in the wind may be enough to power the X-ray emission in the HZ Her-Her X-1 system if a large fraction is captured by the neutron star.

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