This work communicates a review on Balmer series hydrogen beta line measurements and applications for analysis of white dwarf stars. Laser-induced plasma investigations explore electron density and temperature ranges comparable to white dwarf star signatures such as Sirius B, the companion to the brightest star observable from the earth. Spectral line shape characteristics of the hydrogen beta line include width, peak separation, and central dip-shift, thereby providing three indicators for electron density measurements. The hydrogen alpha line shows two primary line-profile parameters for electron density determination, namely, width and shift. Both Boltzmann plot and line-to-continuum ratios yield temperature. The line-shifts recorded with temporally- and spatially-resolved optical emission spectroscopy of hydrogen plasma in laboratory settings can be larger than gravitational redshifts that occur in absorption spectra from radiating white dwarfs. Published astrophysical spectra display significantly diminished Stark or pressure broadening contributions to red-shifted atomic lines. Gravitational redshifts allow one to assess the ratio of mass and radius of these stars, and, subsequently, the mass from cooling models.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited