Scattering by interstellar dust grains. I. Optical and ultraviolet

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Scattering and absorption properties at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths are calculated for an inter-stellar dust model consisting of carbonaceous grains and amorphous silicate grains. Polarization as a function of scattering angle is calculated for selected wavelengths from the infrared to the vacuum ultraviolet. The widely used Henyey-Greenstein phase function provides a good approximation for the scattering phase function at wavelengths between ∼0.4 and 1 μm but fails to fit the calculated phase functions at shorter and longer wavelengths. A new analytic phase function is presented. It is exact at long wavelengths and provides a good fit to the numerically calculated phase function for λ > 0.27 μm. Observational determinations of the scattering albedo and 〈cos θ〉 show considerable disagreement, especially in the ultraviolet. Possible reasons for this are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1017-1025
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Dust, extinction
  • Polarization
  • Scattering
  • Ultraviolet: ISM


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