Atomic data for Zn II: Improving spectral diagnostics of chemical evolution in high-redshift galaxies

Romas Kisielius, Varsha P. Kulkarni, Gary J. Ferland, Pavel Bogdanovich, Debopam Som, Matt L. Lykins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Damped Lyα (DLA) and sub-DLA absorbers in quasar spectra provide the most sensitive tools for measuring the element abundances of distant galaxies. The estimation of abundances from absorption lines depends sensitively on the accuracy of the atomic data used. We have started a project to produce new atomic spectroscopic parameters for optical and UV spectral lines using state-of-the-art computer codes employing a very broad configuration interaction (CI) basis. Here we report our results for Zn ii, an ion used widely in studies of the interstellar medium (ISM) as well as DLAs and sub-DLAs. We report new calculations of many energy levels of Zn ii and the line strengths of the resulting radiative transitions. Our calculations use the CI approach within a numerical Hartree-Fock framework. We use both nonrelativistic and quasi-relativistic one-electron radial orbitals. We have incorporated the results of these atomic calculations into the plasma simulation code Cloudy and applied them to a lab plasma and examples of a DLA and a sub-DLA. Our values of the Zn ii 2026, 2062 oscillator strengths are higher than previous values by 0.10 dex. The Cloudy calculations for representative absorbers with the revised Zn atomic data imply ionization corrections lower than calculated earlier by 0.05 dex. The new results imply that Zn metallicities should be lower by 0.1 dex for DLAs and by 0.13-0.15 dex for sub-DLAs than in past studies. Our results can be applied to other studies of Zn ii in the Galactic and extragalactic ISM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number76
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • ISM: abundances
  • atomic data
  • atomic processes
  • galaxies: abundances
  • quasars: absorption lines
  • quasars: emission lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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