EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 445, Number 3, January III 2006
Page(s) 1005 - 1014
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20053212

A&A 445, 1005-1014 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20053212

The 10 $\boldsymbol{\mu}$m amorphous silicate feature of fractal aggregates and compact particles with complex shapes

M. Min, C. Dominik, J. W. Hovenier, A. de Koter and L. B. F. M. Waters

Astronomical institute Anton Pannekoek, University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    e-mail: mmin@science.uva.nl

(Received 8 April 2005 / Accepted 8 September 2005)

We model the $10\,\mu$m absorption spectra of nonspherical particles composed of amorphous silicate. We consider two classes of particles, compact ones and fractal aggregates composed of homogeneous spheres. For the compact particles we consider Gaussian random spheres with various degrees of non-sphericity. For the fractal aggregates we compute the absorption spectra for various fractal dimensions. The 10$\,\mu$m spectra are computed for ensembles of these particles in random orientation using the well-known Discrete Dipole Approximation. We compare our results to spectra obtained when using volume equivalent homogeneous spheres and to those computed using a porous sphere approximation. We conclude that, in general, nonspherical particles show a spectral signature that is similar to that of homogeneous spheres with a smaller material volume. This effect is overestimated when approximating the particles by porous spheres with the same volume filling fraction. For aggregates with fractal dimensions typically predicted for cosmic dust, we show that the spectral signature characteristic of very small homogeneous spheres (with a volume equivalent radius $r_V\lesssim 0.5\,\mu$m) can be detected even in very large particles. We conclude that particle sizes are underestimated when using homogeneous spheres to model the emission spectra of astronomical sources. In contrast, the particle sizes are severely overestimated when using equivalent porous spheres to fit observations of 10$\,\mu$m silicate emission.

Key words: infrared: general -- stars: circumstellar matter -- stars: planetary systems: protoplanetary disks

© ESO 2006

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