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Detecting scattered light from low-mass molecular cores at 3.6 μm. Impact of global effects on the observation of coreshine

Abstract : Context. Recently discovered scattered light at 3-5 μm from low-mass cores (so-called "coreshine") reveals the presence of grains around 1 μm, which is larger than the grains found in the low-density interstellar medium. But only about half of the 100+ cores investigated so far show the effect. This prompts further studies on the origin of this detection rate.
Aims: We aim to supply criteria for detecting scattered light at 3.6 μm from molecular cloud cores.
Methods: From the 3D continuum radiative transfer equation, we derive the expected scattered light intensity from a core placed in an arbitrary direction seen from Earth. We use the approximation of single scattering, consider extinction up to 2nd-order Taylor approximation, and neglect spatial gradients in the dust size distribution. We analyze how scattered light can outshine the absorbing effect of extinction in front of background radiation by the core for given grain properties, anisotropic interstellar radiation field and background field. The impact of the directional characteristics of the scattering on the detection of scattered light from cores is calculated for a given grain size distribution, and local effects like additional radiation field components are discussed. The surface brightness profiles of a core with a 1D density profile are calculated for various Galactic locations, and the results are compared to the approximate detection limits.
Results: We find that for optically thin radiation and a constant size distribution, a simple limit for detecting scattered light from a low-mass core can be derived that holds for grains with sizes smaller than 0.5 μm. The extinction by the core prohibits detection in bright parts of the Galactic plane, especially near the Galactic center. For scattered light received from low-mass cores with grain sizes beyond 0.5 μm, the directional characteristics of the scattering favors the detection of scattered light above and below the Galactic center, and to some extent near the Galactic anti-center. We identify the local incident radiation field as the major unknown causing deviations from this simple scheme.
Conclusions: The detection of coreshine at a wavelength of 3.6 μm is a complex interplay of the incident radiation, the extinction of the background radiation, the grain properties, and the core properties like sky position and mass.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 24, 2022 - 3:26:35 PM
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J. Steinacker, M. Andersen, W. -F. Thi, A. Bacmann. Detecting scattered light from low-mass molecular cores at 3.6 μm. Impact of global effects on the observation of coreshine. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2014, 563, ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201323219⟩. ⟨insu-03618599⟩



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