Absorption by Spinning Dust: A Contaminant for High-redshift 21 cm Observations

B. T. Draine, Jordi Miralda-Escudé

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24 Scopus citations


Spinning dust grains in front of the bright Galactic synchrotron background can produce a weak absorption signal that could affect measurements of high-redshift 21 cm absorption. At frequencies near 80 MHz where the Experiment to Detect the Global EoR Signature (EDGES) has reported 21 cm absorption at z ≈ 17, absorption could be produced by interstellar nanoparticles with radii a ≈ 50 Å in the cold interstellar medium (ISM), with rotational temperature T≈ 50 K. Atmospheric aerosols could contribute additional absorption. The strength of the absorption depends on the abundance of such grains and on their dipole moments, which are uncertain. The breadth of the absorption spectrum of spinning dust limits its possible impact on measurement of a relatively narrow 21 cm absorption feature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL10
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • atmospheric effects
  • atomic processes
  • cosmic background radiation
  • dust, extinction
  • radiation mechanisms: general


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