Volume 627, July 2019
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Section||Letters to the Editor|
|Published online||16 July 2019|
Letter to the Editor
Polarization reversal of scattered thermal dust emission in protoplanetary disks at submillimetre wavelengths
Institut für Theoretische Physik und Astrophysik, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Leibnizstr. 15, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Accepted: 5 July 2019
Investigation of the polarized light of protoplanetary disks is key for constraining dust properties, disk morphology, and embedded magnetic fields. However, different polarization mechanisms and the diversity of dust grain shapes and compositions lead to ambiguities in the polarization pattern. The so-called “self-scattering” of thermal, re-emitted radiation in the infrared and millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths is discussed as a major polarization mechanism. If the net flux of the radiation field is in the radial direction, it is commonly assumed that the polarization pattern produced by scattering in a protoplanetary disk shows concentric rings for disks seen in face-on orientation. We show that a change of 90° of the polarization vector orientation may occur and mimic the typical pattern of dichroic emission of dust grains aligned by a toroidal magnetic field in disks seen close to face-on. Furthermore, this effect of polarization reversal is a fast-changing function of wavelength and grain size, and is thus a powerful tool to constrain grain composition and size distribution present in protoplanetary disks. In addition, the effect may also provide unique constraints for the disk inclination, especially if the disk is seen close to face-on.
Key words: radiative transfer / protoplanetary disks / polarization / radiation mechanisms: thermal / scattering
© ESO 2019
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