Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2008 Michael J. Rosenberg. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Physics & Astronomy Department

First Advisor

David H. Cohen


We have extensively modeled a neon photoionization experiment on the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories. Using a suite of modeling codes, we have reproduced the experimental environment and simulated the physical conditions inside the neon plasma. We have matched a synthetic spectrum to the absorption spectrum taken during the experiment. Analyzing the spectra by measuring equivalent widths of lines and plotting them on a curve of growth, we have determined that the ionization balance of 1 % Ne VIII, 95% Ne IX, and 4% Ne X for the laboratory spectrum nearly matches the simulated ionization balance of 1 % Ne VIII, 91 % Ne IX, and 8% Ne X. We have found our simulated plasma to be slightly overionized in comparison to the neon in the experiment, though the simulated physical conditions can still be matched to features in the absorption spectrum. Our analysis also indicates that photoionization is a necessary ingredient in the ionization of the neon gas cell plasma. With more refined spectral analysis techniques, we can provide astronomers with information that they can use to better interpret spectra of photoionized astrophysical objects.