Thermodynamic depression of ionization potentials in nonideal plasmas: Generalized self-consistency criterion and a backward scheme for deriving the excess free energy

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5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Accurate and consistent prediction of thermodynamic properties is of great importance in high-energy density physics and in modeling stellar atmospheres and interiors as well. Modern descriptions of thermodynamic properties of such nonideal plasma systems are sophisticated and/or full of pitfalls that make it difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce. The use of the Saha equation modified at high densities by incorporating simple expressions for depression of ionization potentials is very convenient in that context. However, as it is commonly known, the incorporation of ad hoc or empirical expressions for the depression of ionization potentials in the Saha equation leads to thermodynamic inconsistencies. The problem of thermodynamic consistency of ionization potentials depression in nonideal plasmas is investigated and a criterion is derived, which shows immediately, whether a particular model for the ionization potential depression is self-consistent, that is, whether it can be directly related to a modification of the free-energy function, or not. A backward scheme is introduced which can be utilized to derive nonideality corrections to the free-energy function from formulas of ionization potentials depression derived from plasma microfields or in ad hoc or empirical fashion provided that the aforementioned self-consistency criterion is satisfied. The value and usefulness of such a backward method are pointed out and discussed. The above-mentioned criterion is applied to investigate the thermodynamic consistency of some historic models in the literature and an optional routine is introduced to recover their thermodynamic consistencies while maintaining the same functional dependence on the species densities as in the original models. Sample computational problems showing the effect of the proposed modifications on the computed plasma composition are worked out and presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-891
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume699
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009

Keywords

  • Atomic processes
  • Equation of state Online
  • Only material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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