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Title: Polarimetric models of circumstellar discs including aggregate dust grains
Author: Mohan, Mahesh
ISNI:       0000 0004 5917 7070
Awarding Body: University of Hertfordshire
Current Institution: University of Hertfordshire
Date of Award: 2016
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The work conducted in this thesis examines the nature of circumstellar discs by investigating irradiance and polarization of scattered light. Two circumstellar discs are investigated. Firstly, H-band high contrast imaging data on the transitional disc of the Herbig Ae/Be star HD169142 are presented. The images were obtained through the polarimetric differential imaging (PDI) technique on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) using the adaptive optics system NACO. Our observations use longer exposure times, allowing us to examine the edges of the disc. Analysis of the observations shows distinct signs of polarization due to circumstellar material, but due to excessive saturation and adaptive optics errors further information on the disc could not be inferred. The HD169142 disc is then modelled using the 3D radiative transfer code Hyperion. Initial models were constructed using a two disc structure, however recent PDI has shown the existence of an annular gap. In addition to this, the annular gap is found not to be devoid of dust. This then led to the construction of a four-component disc structure. Estimates of the mass of dust in the gap (2:10x10⁻⁶ M⊙) are made as well as for the planet (≈1:53 x 10⁻⁵ M⊙ (0.016MJupiter)) suspected to be responsible for causing the gap. The predicted polarization was also estimated for the disc, peaking at 14 percent. The use of realistic dust grains (ballistic aggregate particles) in Monte Carlo code is also examined. The fortran code DDSCAT is used to calculate the scattering properties for aggregates which are used to replace the spherical grain models used by the radiative transfer code Hyperion. Currently, Hyperion uses four independent elements to de ne the scattering matrix, therefore the use of rotational averaging and a 50/50 percent population of grains and their enantiomers were explored to reduce the number of contributing scattering elements from DDSCAT. A python script was created to extract the scattering data from the DDSCAT output les and to apply a size distribution to the data. The second circumstellar disc investigated is the debris disc of the M dwarf star AU Mic. The disc was modelled, using the radiative transfer code Hyperion, based on F606W (HST) and JHK0-band (Keck II) scattered light observations and F606Wband polarized light observations. Initially, the disc is modelled as a two component structure using two grain types: compact silicate grains and porous dirty ice water. Both models are able to reproduce the observed SED and the F606W and H-band surface brightness pro les, but are unable to t the observed F606W degree of polarization. Therefore, a more complex/realistic grain model was examined (ballistic aggregate particles). In addition, recent millimetre observations suggest the existence of a planetesimal belt < 3 AU from the central star. This belt is included in the BAM2 model and was successful in fitting the observed SED, F606W and H-band surface brightness and F606W polarization. These results demonstrate the limitations of spherical grain models and indicate the importance of modelling more realistic dust grains.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: circumstellar matter ; dust ; aggregate particles ; circumstellar disc ; radiative transfer ; scattering ; polarization