The Monte Carlo method is a powerful tool for performing radiative equilibrium calculations, even in complex geometries. The main drawback of the standard Monte Carlo radiative equilibrium methods is that they require iteration, which makes them numerically very demanding. Bjorkman and Wood recently proposed a frequency distribution adjustment scheme, which allows radiative equilibrium Monte Carlo calculations to be performed without iteration, by choosing the frequency of each re-emitted photon such that it corrects for the incorrect spectrum of the previously re-emitted photons. Though, the method appears to yield correct results, we argue that its theoretical basis is not completely transparent, and that it is not completely clear whether this technique is an exact rigorous method, or whether it is just a good and convenient approximation. We critically study the general problem of how an already sampled distribution can be adjusted to a new distribution by adding data points sampled from an adjustment distribution. We show that this adjustment is not always possible, and that it depends on the shape of the original and desired distributions, as well as on the relative number of data points that can be added. Applying this theorem to radiative equilibrium Monte Carlo calculations, we provide a firm theoretical basis for the frequency distribution adjustment method of Bjorkman and Wood, and we demonstrate that this method provides the correct frequency distribution through the additional requirement of radiative equilibrium. We discuss the advantages and limitations of this approach, and show that it can easily be combined with the presence of additional heating sources and the concept of photon weighting. However, the method may fail if small dust grains are included, or if the absorption rate is estimated from the mean intensity of the radiation field.
- Pub Date:
- June 2005
- Radiative transfer;
- Radiation mechanisms: thermal;
- Dust: extinction;
- Methods: numerical;
- 17 pages, 2 figures, accepted for publication in New Astronomy