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Paper: Grain Alignment in Molecular Clouds
Volume: 343, Astronomical Polarimetry: Current Status and Future Directions
Page: 333
Authors: Lazarian, A.; Cho, J.
Abstract: Polarimetry is one of the most informative techniques of studying magnetic fields in molecular clouds. How reliable the interpretation of the polarization maps in terms of magnetic fields is the issue that the grain alignment theory addresses. We show that grain alignment involves several processes acting simultaneously, but on different time-scales. We explain that rotating dust grains get substantial magnetic moment that allows them precess fast about magnetic field lines. As the result, grains preserve their orientation to magnetic field when the magnetic field direction fluctuates. We point out to the importance of internal alignment, i.e. the process forces grain axes to be aligned in respect to the grain angular momentum. We show that subtle quantum effects, in particular relaxation related to nuclear magnetic moments of atoms composing the grain, brings to live complex grain motions, e.g. flips. These flips substantially alter the dynamics of grain and limit the applicability of earlier theories that did not account for them. We also briefly review basic physical processes involved in the alignment of grain angular momentum in respect to interstellar magnetic field. We claim that the bulk of existing observational data is consistent with the radiative torque alignment mechanism. In particular, we show that large grains that are known to exist in the cores of molecular clouds may be aligned by the attenuated external interstellar radiation field.
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