One of the main problems in studying chemically peculiar (CP) stars is the question of the extent to which the conceptual framework of the contemporary spectroscopic diagnostics is reliable. As the first step, it should be clarified whether the traditional assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) provides an adequate approximation to reality, or whether a more general non-LTE approach should be employed.
The period of rapid development of computational methods and extensive calculations of NLTE model atmospheres is now past its culmination point. The importance of a relevant NLTE description is viewed as unquestionable for hot stars (B and earlier). Consequently, the hot stars attract the attention of most “NLTE theoreticians,” while considerably less attention is being devoted to later types (late B and A). Moreover, the abundance anomalies found in the CP stars are no longer expected to be a spurious result of an inadequate (LTE) analysis (Cowley 1981). It is not commonly accepted that other phenomena such as diffusion, magnetic field, inhomogeneous abundance distribution, etc., are quite essential ingredients of the general atmospheric pattern of CP stars. Therefore, a large part of the astronomers investigating the CP stars now consider the NLTE effects to be rather minor perturbations of the LTE predictions.