EDP Sciences
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Volume 440, Number 2, September III 2005
Page(s) 531 - 546
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20042615

A&A 440, 531-546 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20042615

Efficient Monte Carlo methods for continuum radiative transfer

M. Juvela

Helsinki University Observatory, Tähtitorninmäki, PO Box 14, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
    e-mail: mjuvela@astro.helsinki.fi

(Received 26 December 2004 / Accepted 28 April 2005 )

We discuss the efficiency of Monte Carlo methods in solving continuum radiative transfer problems. The sampling of the radiation field and convergence of dust temperature calculations in the case of optically thick clouds are both studied. For spherically symmetric clouds we find that the computational cost of Monte Carlo simulations can be reduced, in some cases by orders of magnitude, with simple importance weighting schemes. This is particularly true for models consisting of cells of different sizes, for which the run times would otherwise be determined by the size of the smallest cell. The use of importance weighting is extended to scattered photons, which is found to be useful in calculations of scattered flux and could be important for three-dimensional models when observed intensity is needed only for one general direction of observations. Convergence of dust temperature calculations is studied for models with optical depths $\tau_{\rm V}=10{-}10^4$. We examine acceleration methods where radiative interactions inside a cell or between neighbouring cells are treated explicitly. In optically thick clouds with strong self-coupling between dust temperatures, the run times can be reduced by more than one order of magnitude. Use of a reference field was also examined. It eliminates the need for repeating simulation of constant sources (e.g., background radiation) after the first iteration and it was found to significantly reduce sampling errors. We finally discuss the applicability of our methods to three-dimensional models.

Key words: radiative transfer -- ISM: clouds -- infrared: ISM -- scattering

© ESO 2005