Volume 601, May 2017
|Number of page(s)||15|
|Section||Numerical methods and codes|
|Published online||10 May 2017|
Polarization in Monte Carlo radiative transfer and dust scattering polarization signatures of spiral galaxies
1 Sterrenkundig Observatorium, Universiteit Gent, Krijgslaan 281 S9, 9000 Gent, Belgium
2 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85748 Garching b. München, Germany
3 Universidad de Chile, Observatorio Astronomico Nacional Cerro Calan, Camino El Observatorio 1515, Santiago, Chile
4 Astronomical Observatory, Volgina 7, 11060 Belgrade, Serbia
Received: 29 November 2016
Accepted: 17 February 2017
Polarization is an important tool to further the understanding of interstellar dust and the sources behind it. In this paper we describe our implementation of polarization that is due to scattering of light by spherical grains and electrons in the dust Monte Carlo radiative transfer code SKIRT. In contrast to the implementations of other Monte Carlo radiative transfer codes, ours uses co-moving reference frames that rely solely on the scattering processes. It fully supports the peel-off mechanism that is crucial for the efficient calculation of images in 3D Monte Carlo codes. We develop reproducible test cases that push the limits of our code. The results of our program are validated by comparison with analytically calculated solutions. Additionally, we compare results of our code to previously published results. We apply our method to models of dusty spiral galaxies at near-infrared and optical wavelengths. We calculate polarization degree maps and show them to contain signatures that trace characteristics of the dust arms independent of the inclination or rotation of the galaxy.
Key words: polarization / radiative transfer / methods: numerical / dust, extinction / galaxies: spiral
© ESO, 2017
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