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Paper: Quantitative Theory of Grain Alignment: Probing Grain Environment and Grain Composition
Volume: 414, Cosmic Dust—Near and Far
Page: 482
Authors: Lazarian, A.
Abstract: While the problem of grain alignment was posed more than 60 years ago the quantitative model of grain alignment that can account for the observed polarization arising from aligned grains has been formulated only recently. The quantitative predictions of the radiative torque mechanism, which is currently accepted as the dominant mechanism of grain alignment, open avenues to tracing magnetic fields in various astrophysical environments, including diffuse and dense interstellar gas, molecular clouds, circumstellar environments, accretion disks, comet tails, Zodiacal dust etc. At the same time, measurements of the absolute value of polarization and its variations can, in addition, provide unique information about the dust composition and dust environment. In the review I describe the analytical model describing well radiative torques acting on irregular grains and discuss how the alignment induced by radiative torques varies in the presence of superparamagnetic inclusions and pinwheel torques, e.g. arising from the H2 formation over grain surface. I also describe observations that can establish whether grains are superparamagnetic and whether recoils from H2 formations are powerful enough to give rise to substantial uncompensated torques. Answering to these questions should allow for reliable modeling of astrophysical polarization with numerous important applications, from accounting for dust contribution in Cosmic Microwave Background polarization studies to obtaining magnetic field strength using Chandrasekhar-Fermi technique.
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