Astronomy and Astrophysics
Aims: This work aims to assess the impact and the range of validity of the AA approximation with respect to the general angle-dependent (AD) treatment of PRD effects in the modeling of scattering polarization in strong resonance lines, with a focus on the solar Ca I 4227 Å line.
Methods: Spectral line polarization was modeled by solving the radiative transfer problem for polarized radiation, under nonlocal thermodynamic equilibrium conditions, taking PRD effects into account in static one-dimensional semi-empirical atmospheric models presenting arbitrary magnetic fields. The problem was solved through a two-step approach. In step 1, the problem was solved for the intensity only, considering a multilevel atom. In step 2, the problem was solved including polarization, considering a two-level atom with an unpolarized and infinitely sharp lower level, and fixing the lower level population calculated at step 1.
Results: The results for the Ca I 4227 Å line show a good agreement between the AA and AD calculations for the Q/I and U/I wings' signals. However, AA calculations reveal an artificial trough in the line-core peak of the linear polarization profiles, whereas AD calculations show a sharper peak in agreement with the observations.
Conclusions: An AD treatment of PRD effects is essential to correctly model the line-core peak of the scattering polarization signal of the Ca I 4227 Å line. By contrast, in the considered static case, the AA approximation seems to be suitable to model the wing scattering polarization lobes and their magnetic sensitivity through magneto-optical effects.
Magnetic fields pervade all astrophysical plasmas and govern most of the variability in the Universe at intermediate time scales. They are present in stars across the whole Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, in galaxies, and even perhaps in the intergalactic medium. Polarized light provides the most reliable source of information at our disposal for the