On Far-Infrared and Submm Circular Polarization

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B. T. Draine

Interstellar dust grains are often aligned. If the grain alignment direction varies along the line of sight, the thermal emission becomes circularly-polarized. In the diffuse interstellar medium, the circular polarization at far-infrared and submm wavelengths is predicted to be very small, and probably unmeasurable. However, circular polarization may reach detectable levels in infrared dark clouds and protoplanetary disks. Measurement of circular polarization could help constrain the structure of the magnetic field in infrared dark clouds, and may shed light on the mechanisms responsible for grain alignment in protoplanetary disks.


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