We present the results of a meeting on numerical simulations of ionized nebulae held at the University of Kentucky in conjunction with the celebration of the 70th birthdays of Profs. Donald Osterbrock and Michael Seaton.
Numerical simulations of emission line regions, whether photo or shock ionized, are a vital tool in the analysis and interpretation of spectroscopic observations. Models can determine characteristics of the central source of ionizing radiation, the composition and conditions within the emitting gas, or, for shocks, the shock velocity. Osterbrock (1989) and Draine & McKee (1993) review the basic physical processes in these environments.
Although numerical simulations are a powerful tool, this capability is somewhat mitigated by the complexity of the calculations. There will always be underlying questions regarding the astronomical environment (i.e., the shape of the ionizing continuum, inhomogeneities, or the composition of the gas) and uncertainties introduced by the evolving atomic/molecular data base. On top of this, however, the numerical approximations, assumptions, and the complexity of the simulations themselves introduce an uncertainty that cannot be judged from a single calculation.
With these questions in mind Daniel Péquignot held a meeting on model nebulae in Meudon, France, in 1985. This provided a forum where investigators could carefully compare model predictions and identify methods, assumptions, or atomic data which led to significant differences in results.