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A 3D radiative transfer framework: XI. multi-level NLTE

Abstract

Multi-level non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE) radiation transfer calculations have become standard throughout the stellar atmospheres community and are applied to all types of stars as well as dynamical systems such as novae and supernovae. Even today spherically symmetric 1D calculations with full physics are computationally intensive. We show that full NLTE calculations can be done with fully 3 dimensional (3D) radiative transfer. With modern computational techniques and current massive parallel computational resources, full detailed solution of the multi-level NLTE problem coupled to the solution of the radiative transfer scattering problem can be solved without sacrificing the micro physics description. We extend the use of a rate operator developed to solve the coupled NLTE problem in spherically symmetric 1D systems. In order to spread memory among processors we have implemented the NLTE/3D module with a hierarchical domain decomposition method that distributes the NLTE levels, radiative rates, and rate operator data over a group of processes so that each process only holds the data for a fraction of the voxels. Each process in a group holds all the relevant data to participate in the solution of the 3DRT problem so that the 3DRT solution is parallelized within a domain decomposition group. We solve a spherically symmetric system in 3D spherical coordinates in order to directly compare our well-tested 1D code to the 3D case. We compare three levels of tests: a) a simple H+He test calculation, b) H+He+CNO+Mg, c) H+He+Fe. The last test is computationally large and shows that realistic astrophysical problems are solvable now, but they do require significant computational resources. With presently available computational resources it is possible to solve the full 3D multi-level problem with the same detailed micro-physics as included in 1D modeling.Comment: 20 pages, 14 figures, A&A, in pres

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