UV Radiation Fields in Dark Clouds

  • A. P. Whitworth
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 55)


How dark is it inside a dark cloud ? If — as is currently believed - interstellar extinction at UV wavelengths is mainly due to scattering with a strongly forward throwing phase-function, the interior of a dark cloud may be much better illuminated at UV wavelengths than its measured extinction would suggest. We consider the penetration of radiation into a dark cloud against scattering and absorption by grains; and we define a new group property for interstellar grains, the exclusion optical depth τ d . τ d is a measure of the ability of the grains to exclude radiation from the interior of an externally illuminated cloud. Radiation — as measured by the radiation energy density — penetrates the cloud approximately as if against pure absorption only, with effective optical depth τ d . Thus τ d is a conceptually and numerically useful quantity when estimating the role of UV radiation in the thermal and chemical balance within a dark cloud. Computations are made of the radiation fields in (1200, 4500) Å, at the centres of dark clouds with measured visual extinctions. It is found that even in very dark clouds, the radiation energy density in (1200,1800) Å may be significant, due to the high grain albedo at these short wavelengths.


Radiation Field Optical Depth Radiation Density Interstellar Extinction Dark Cloud 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. P. Whitworth
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Applied Mathematics and AstronomyUniversity CollegeCardiff, WalesUK

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