The Pseudo-continuum Bound-free Opacity of Hydrogen and its Importance in Cool White Dwarf Atmospheres


We investigate the importance of the pseudo-continuum bound-free opacity from hydrogen atoms in the atmospheres of cool white dwarfs. This source of absorption, when calculated by the occupation probability formalism applied in the modeling of white dwarf atmospheres with Teff<17000KT_{\rm eff}\rm <17000 K, dominates all other sources of opacity at optical wavelengths. This is unrealistic and not observed. On the other hand, a significant flux suppression in the blue part of the spectra of cool white dwarfs has been reported, and mainly interpreted as a result of the pseudo-continuum absorption from atomic hydrogen. We investigate this problem by proposing a new, more realistic approach to calculating this source of opacity. We show that this absorption is orders of magnitude smaller than that predicted by current methods. Therefore, we rule out the pseudo-continuum opacity as a source of the flux deficiency observed in the spectra of cool white dwarfs.Comment: 11 pages, 5 gigures, accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journa

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