Populations of the Discrete Levels of Hydrogen in Nonstationary Cooling Gases
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We study the emission from a gas heated in a shock front in the atmosphere of a giant star and examine the deviation of the populations of the discrete levels of hydrogen from their quasiequilibrium values according to the Saha formula as functions of the instantaneous electron temperature Te(t) and density Ne(t). Special attention is devoted to highly excited states. The deviations are found to decrease with increasing principal quantum number. They reach a maximum during the phase in which the electron temperature is rising and then fall off monotonically. The highest levels thermalize first, then the less excited states, and finally the ground state.
Keywordshydrogen atom: shock wave
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