Wednesday, July 17, 2013

1307.4217 (Jiri Stepan et al.)

PORTA: A Three-dimensional Multilevel Radiative Transfer Code for Modeling the Intensity and Polarization of Spectral Lines with Massively Parallel Computers    [PDF]

Jiri Stepan, Javier Trujillo Bueno
The interpretation of the intensity and polarization of the spectral line radiation produced in the atmosphere of the Sun and of other stars requires solving a radiative transfer problem that can be very complex, especially when the main interest lies in modeling the spectral line polarization produced by scattering processes and the Hanle and Zeeman effects. One of the difficulties is due to the fact that the plasma of a stellar atmosphere can be highly inhomogeneous and dynamic, which implies the need to solve the non-equilibrium problem of the generation and transfer of polarized radiation in realistic three-dimensional (3D) stellar atmospheric models. Here we present PORTA, an efficient multilevel radiative transfer code we have developed for doing simulations of the spectral line polarization caused by scattering processes and the Hanle and Zeeman effects in 3D models of stellar atmospheres. The numerical method of solution is based on the non-linear multigrid iterative method and on a novel short-characteristics formal solver of the Stokes-vector transfer equation which uses monotonic B\'ezier interpolation. Therefore, with PORTA the computing time needed to obtain at each spatial grid point the self-consistent values of the atomic density matrix (which quantifies the excitation state of the atomic system) scales linearly with the total number of grid points. Another crucial feature of PORTA is its parallelization strategy, which allows us to speedup the numerical solution of complicated 3D problems by several orders of magnitude with respect to sequential radiative transfer approaches, given its excellent linear scaling with the number of available processors. PORTA can also be conveniently applied for solving the simpler 3D radiative transfer problem of unpolarized radiation in multilevel systems.
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