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.

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Published in The Astrophysical Journal, v. 804, no. 1, 76, p. 1-10.

© 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

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This work is supported by the collaborative National Science Foundation grants AST/1109061 to Univ. of Kentucky and AST/1108830 to Univ. of South Carolina. VPK also acknowledges partial support from STScI (HST-GO-12536) and NASA (NNX14AG74G). GJF acknowledges support by NSF (1108928, 1109061, and 1412155), NASA (10-ATP10-0053, 10-ADAP10-0073, NNX12AH73G, and ATP13-0153), and STScI (HST-AR- 13245, GO-12560, HST-GO-12309, GO-13310.002 A, and HST-AR-13914) and also is grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for support via the award of a Visiting Professorship at Queen's University Belfast. RK and PB acknowledge support from the European Social Fund under the Global Grant measure, project VP1-3.1-ŠMM-07-K-02-013.

apj511044t2_mrt.txt (14 kB)
Supporting material: Table 2 machine-readable version

apj511044t4_mrt.txt (52 kB)
Supporting material: Table 4 machine-readable version