Chromium: NLTE abundances in metal-poor stars and nucleosynthesis in the Galaxy
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Aims. We investigate statistical equilibrium of Cr in the atmospheres of late-type stars to show whether the systematic abundance discrepancy between Cr I and Cr II lines, as often encountered in the literature, is due to deviations from LTE. Furthermore, we attempt to interpret the NLTE trend of [Cr/Fe] with [Fe/H] using chemical evolution models for the solar neighborhood. Methods. NLTE calculations are performed for the model of Cr atom, comprising 340 levels and 6806 transitions in total.
... make use of the quantum-mechanical photoionization cross-sections of Nahar (2009) and investigate sensitivity of the model to uncertain cross-sections for H I collisions. NLTE line formation is performed for the MAFAGS-ODF model atmospheres of the Sun and 10 metal-poor stars with -3.2 < [Fe/H] < -0.5, and abundances of Cr are derived by comparison of the synthetic and observed flux spectra. Results. We achieve good ionization equilibrium of Cr for the models with different stellar parameters, if inelastic collisions with H I atoms are neglected. The solar NLTE abundance based on Cr I lines is 5.74 dex with σ = 0.05 dex; it is ∼ 0.1 higher than the LTE abundance. For the metal-poor stars, the NLTE abundance corrections to Cr I lines range from +0.3 to +0.5 dex. The resulting [Cr/Fe] ratio is roughly solar for the range of metallicities analyzed here, which is consistent with current views on production of these iron peak elements in supernovae. Conclusions. The tendency of Cr to become deficient with respect to Fe in metal-poor stars is an artifact due to neglect of NLTE effects in the line formation of Cr I, and it has no relation to peculiar physical conditions in the Galactic ISM or deficiencies of nucleosynthesis theory.