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Modeling of Stellar Atmospheres
ASP Conference Series, Vol. 288, 2003
I. Hubeny, D. Mihalas, 6 K. Werner
Summary/Prognosis of the Workshop
Applied Physics Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos,
Abstract. In this talk I will try to: (1) summarize the progress in hard-
ware, software, algorithm, and databases that have made the advances of
the last 35 years in stellar atmospheric modeling possible; (2) comment
on some of the important papers presented in this meeting; and (3) offer
opinions about where fruitful paths for future investigations may lie.
This has been an exceptionally good workshop. I can remember only two con-
ferences that approach the level of quality of this one: a) the Second Harvard-
Smithsonian on Stellar Atmospheres (Gingerich & Whitney 1965) where the first
approaches toward computing NLTE line formation were discussed, and b) the
radiation hydrodynamics conference held at Systems, Science, & Software, Inc.
in 1969, where I learned about Burt Freeman's clever idea of variable Eddington
factors (Freeman, et al. 1968) as applied to Laboratory systems.
I am supposed to provide this afternoon's entertainment by giving a sum-
mary of the meeting. But I offer two caveats. First, I wrote my last paper on
stellar atmospheres about 20 years ago. So I am a fossil, left over from an earlier
era. Indeed, my motive in coming to this conference is to learn from you about
the incredible progress made in this field in the past 20 years. Second, I warn
you that it is tempting for an elderly scientist talking about a favorite subject,
to reminisce. And those of you who know me can attest that I can resist any-
thing, ... except temptation. So I shall yield to it; I will also give a shamelessly
personal view of the history, as I knew it.
I went to graduate school at Caltech in 1959 thinking I might work on stellar
interiors and stellar evolution. Two things made me change my mind : (1) I real-
ized that modeling stellar interiors yields only two numbers connected to the real
world: a star's "radius" and luminosity. Even then the theoretician's numbers
must be converted to observable quantities using models of stellar atmospheres.
In contrast, the spectrum of a star contains a wealth of data about its physical
structure and composition, just pleading for interpretation. (2) Hoyle was visit-
ing at Caltech in 1960/61. In his lectures, he gave us discouraging blow-by-blow
accounts of his fruitless efforts to compute the structure of highly evolved stars
by the old method of fitting core and envelope models. It was a complicated
process, and it wasn't working. I decided it was hopeless. Ironically, I heard
about Henyey's new, two-point boundary-value method for making stellar mod-
els at the Berkeley IAU meeting the following summer; it was an adaptation to
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Mihalas, Dimitri,. Summary/prognosis of the workshop, article, January 1, 2002; United States. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc926066/m1/2/: accessed April 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.