Volume 385, Number 1, April I 2002
|Page(s)||365 - 376|
|Section||Section $secnum inconnue|
|Published online||15 April 2002|
Multiple scattering of polarized radiation by non-spherical grains: First results
Thuringian State Observatory Tautenburg, Sternwarte 5, 07778 Tautenburg, Germany
2 Sobolev Astronomical Institute, St. Petersburg University, Universitetskii Prosp. 28, 198504 Stary Peterhof-St. Petersburg, Russia and Isaac Newton Institute of Chile, St. Petersburg Branch, Russia
3 Astrophysical Institute and University Observatory (AIU), Friedrich Schiller University, Schillergäßchen 3, 07745 Jena, Germany
Corresponding author: N. V. Voshchinnikov, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 21 January 2002
We present the first numerical radiative transfer simulation of multiple light scattering in dust configurations containing aligned non-spherical (spheroidal) dust grains. Such models are especially important if one wants to explain the circular polarization of light, observed in a variety of astronomical objects. The optical properties of the spheroidal grains are calculated using the method of separation of variables developed by Voshchinnikov & Farafonov ([CITE]). The radiative transfer problem is solved on the basis of the Monte Carlo method. Test simulations, confirming the correct numerical implementation of the scattering mechanism, are presented. As a first application, we investigate the linear and circular polarization of light coming from a spherical circumstellar shell. This shell contains perfectly aligned prolate or oblate spheroidal grains. We investigate the dependence of the results on the grain parameters (equivolume radius, aspect ratio) and the shell parameters (inner/outer radius, optical thickness). The most remarkable features of the simulated linear polarization maps are so-called polarization null points where the reversal of polarization occurs. They appear in the case when the grain alignment axis is perpendicular to the line of sight. The position of these points may be used for the estimation of grain shape and geometrical structure of the shell. The origin of null points lies in the physics of light scattering by non-spherical particles and is not related to the cancellation of polarization as was discussed in previous models. The maps of circular polarization have a sector-like structure with maxima at the ends of lines inclined to the grain alignment axis by .
Key words: polarization / radiative transfer / scattering / methods: numerical / (stars:) circumstellar matter / ISM: clouds
© ESO, 2002
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