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I understand that eventually lead would melt when it nears the sun. In a liquid state how effective would lead be in blocking radiation? Would it still be as effective as solid state of lead? What about lead in a gas state?

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    $\begingroup$ TThe liquid and solid states have about the same density, so for alpha, beta, gamma, and neutrons they would be similar. Gas would have less on a per -thickness basis, but about the same on a grams per square cm traversed. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Mar 16 '16 at 16:57
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All that really matters is the column density of the lead - how much mass per unit area you have. What this means is that if you change the state or density of lead then so long as you arrange it so that $\rho x$ is the same, where $x$ is the path traversed by the radiation, then the absorption due to the lead will be the same.

Everything might change if you ionise the lead, but not if you merely change it into an atomic gas.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that ionizing would have much of an impact at all, assuming a thermal neutral plasma. I'll have to think a bit more on just where any major scattering difference would come from. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Mar 16 '16 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ In a plasma the is more phase-space for scattering off electrons at low momentum transfer. Probably a small effect overall. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Mar 16 '16 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @JonCuster Inverse bremsstrahlung becomes possible, which isn't present in an atomic absorber. You also lose a continuum of bound-free absorption interactions. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Mar 16 '16 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ But in the solid you have the conduction band. Whatever the difference is, I think it can be categorized as 'small' in the bigger scheme of effects. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Mar 16 '16 at 19:42

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