Interstellar Dust Grains

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This review surveys the observed properties of interstellar dust grains: the wavelength-dependent extinction of starlight, including absorption features, from UV to infrared; optical luminescence; infrared emission; microwave emission; optical, UV, and X-ray scattering by dust; and polarization of starlight and of infrared emission. The relationship between presolar grains in meteorites and the interstellar grain population is discussed. Candidate grain materials and abundance constraints are considered. A dust model consisting of amorphous silicate grains, graphite grains, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is compared with observed emission and scattering. Some issues concerning evolution of interstellar dust are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-289
Number of pages49
JournalAnnual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Infrared astronomy
  • Interstellar grains
  • Interstellar medium
  • Light scattering
  • Molecular clouds


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