Cosmic dust is present in many astrophysical objects, and recent observations across the electromagnetic spectrum show that the dust distribution is often strongly three-dimensional (3D). Dust grains are effective in absorbing and scattering ultraviolet (UV)/optical radiation, and they re-emit the absorbed energy at infrared wavelengths. Understanding the intrinsic properties of these objects, including the dust itself, therefore requires 3D dust radiative transfer (RT) calculations. Unfortunately, the 3D dust RT problem is nonlocal and nonlinear, which makes it one of the hardest challenges in computational astrophysics. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made in the past decade, with an increasing number of codes capable of dealing with the complete 3D dust RT problem. We discuss the complexity of this problem, the two most successful solution techniques [ray-tracing (RayT) and Monte Carlo (MC)], and the state of the art in modeling observational data using 3D dust RT codes. We end with an outlook on the bright future of this field.
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- August 2013
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- 41 pages, 7 figures, Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 51 (in press)