I. A 3D externally illuminated slab benchmark for dust radiative transfer
1 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
2 Sterrenkundig Observatorium, Universiteit Gent, Krijgslaan 281 S9, 9000 Gent, Belgium
3 INAF–Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
4 Department of Physics, PO Box 64, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
5 Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Universität Tübingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 10, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
6 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
7 Freelance Consultant, Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, Bennett Road Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN, UK
8 Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences, Chalmers Univ. of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, 439 92 Onsala, Sweden
9 Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE, UK
10 Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
11 Univ. Grenoble Alpes, IPAG, 38000 Grenoble, France
12 CNRS, IPAG, 38000 Grenoble, France
Received: 28 October 2016
Accepted: 12 March 2017
Context. The radiative transport of photons through arbitrary three-dimensional (3D) structures of dust is a challenging problem due to the anisotropic scattering of dust grains and strong coupling between different spatial regions. The radiative transfer problem in 3D is solved using Monte Carlo or Ray Tracing techniques as no full analytic solution exists for the true 3D structures.
Aims. We provide the first 3D dust radiative transfer benchmark composed of a slab of dust with uniform density externally illuminated by a star. This simple 3D benchmark is explicitly formulated to provide tests of the different components of the radiative transfer problem including dust absorption, scattering, and emission.
Methods. The details of the external star, the slab itself, and the dust properties are provided. This benchmark includes models with a range of dust optical depths fully probing cases that are optically thin at all wavelengths to optically thick at most wavelengths. The dust properties adopted are characteristic of the diffuse Milky Way interstellar medium. This benchmark includes solutions for the full dust emission including single photon (stochastic) heating as well as two simplifying approximations: One where all grains are considered in equilibrium with the radiation field and one where the emission is from a single effective grain with size-distribution-averaged properties. A total of six Monte Carlo codes and one Ray Tracing code provide solutions to this benchmark.
Results. The solution to this benchmark is given as global spectral energy distributions (SEDs) and images at select diagnostic wavelengths from the ultraviolet through the infrared. Comparison of the results revealed that the global SEDs are consistent on average to a few percent for all but the scattered stellar flux at very high optical depths. The image results are consistent within 10%, again except for the stellar scattered flux at very high optical depths. The lack of agreement between different codes of the scattered flux at high optical depths is quantified for the first time. Convergence tests using one of the Monte Carlo codes illustrate the sensitivity of the solutions to various model parameters.
Conclusions. We provide the first 3D dust radiative transfer benchmark and validate the accuracy of this benchmark through comparisons between multiple independent codes and detailed convergence tests.
Key words: methods: numerical / ISM: general / radiative transfer
© ESO, 2017