Stellar Absorption Lines

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CONSIDERABLE attention has been recently devoted by various investigators to the explanation of the observed contours of stellar absorption lines. There are many physical factors that contribute to the formation of the contour. The most important are: (1) the abundance of the absorbing atoms in the gas, (2) the Stark effect, and (3) Doppler effects due to the rotation of the stars. We are here concerned with the first of these, which is usually designated as ‘natural widening’ of spectral lines. H. N. Russell and others have shown that this type of broadening is particularly important in the stars because of the large number of absorbing atoms present in a stellar reversing layer. It is responsible for the enormous widths of the H and K lines of Ca+ in the later spectral types.

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