We present a new model of interstellar dust in which large grains are a single composite material, “astrodust,” and nanoparticle-sized grains come in distinct varieties including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We argue that a single-composition model for grains larger than ∼0.02 μm most naturally explains the lack of frequency dependence in the far-infrared (FIR) polarization fraction and the characteristic ratio of optical to FIR polarization. We derive a size distribution and alignment function for 1.4:1 oblate astrodust grains that, with PAHs, reproduce the mean wavelength dependence and polarization of Galactic extinction and emission from the diffuse interstellar medium while respecting constraints on solid-phase abundances. All model data and Python-based interfaces are made publicly available.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science