Modelling the dust emission from dense interstellar clouds: disentangling the effects of radiative transfer and dust properties

TitleModelling the dust emission from dense interstellar clouds: disentangling the effects of radiative transfer and dust properties
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsYsard, N, Juvela M, Demyk K, Guillet V, Abergel A, Bernard J. - P., Malinen J, Mény C., Montier L, Paradis D., Ristorcelli I, and Verstraete L
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Date Publishedfeb
Keywordsclouds, dust, extinction, general, infrared, ism, radiative transfer, submillimeter

With Planck and Herschel, we now have the spectral coverage and angular resolution required to observe dense and cold molecular clouds. As these clouds are optically thick at short wavelength but optically thin at long wavelength, it is tricky to conclude anything about dust properties without a proper treatment of the radiative transfer (RT). Our aim is to disentangle the effects of RT and of dust properties on the variations in the dust emission to provide observers with keys to analyse the emission arising from dense clouds. We model cylindrical clouds, illuminated by the ISRF, and carry out full RT calculations. Dust temperatures are solved using DustEM for amorphous carbons and silicates, grains coated with carbon mantles, and mixed aggregates of carbon and silicate. We allow variations of the grain optical properties with wavelength and temperature. We determine observed colour temperatures, T, and emissivity spectral indices, beta, by fitting the dust emission with modified blackbodies, to compare our models with observations. RT effects can neither explain the low T nor the increased submm emissivity measured at the centre of dense clouds, nor the observed beta-T anti-correlation. Adding noise to the modelled data, we show that it is not likely to be the unique explanation for the beta-T anti-correlation observed in starless clouds. It may be explained by intrinsic variations in the grain optical properties with temperature. As for the increased submm emissivity and the low T, they have to originate in variations in the grain optical properties, probably caused by their growth to form porous aggregates. We find it difficult to track back the nature of grains from the spectral variations in their emission. Finally, the column density is underestimated when determined with blackbody fitting because of the discrepancy between T and the true dust temperature at the cloud centre.