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  1. Abstract The alignment of dust grains with the ambient magnetic field produces polarization of starlight as well as thermal dust emission. Using the archival SOFIA/HAWC+ polarimetric data observed toward the ρ Ophiuchus (Oph) A cloud hosted by a B star at 89 and 154 μ m, we find that the fractional polarization of thermal dust emission first increases with the grain temperature and then decreases once the grain temperature exceeds ≃25–32 K. The latter trend differs from the prediction of the popular RAdiative Torques (RATs) alignment theory, which implies a monotonic increase of the polarization fraction with the grain temperature. We perform numerical modeling of polarized dust emission for the ρ Oph-A cloud and calculate the degree of dust polarization by simultaneously considering the dust grain alignment and rotational disruption by RATs. Our modeling results could successfully reproduce both the rising and declining trends of the observational data. Moreover, we show that the alignment of only silicate grains or a mixture of silicate–carbon grains within a composite structure can reproduce the observational trends, assuming that all dust grains follow a power-law size distribution. Although there are a number of simplifications and limitations to our modeling, our results suggest grains inmore »the ρ Oph-A cloud have a composite structure, and the grain size distribution has a steeper slope than the standard size distribution for the interstellar medium. Combination of SOFIA/HAWC+ data with JCMT observations 450 and 850  μ m would be useful to test the proposed scenario based on grain alignment and disruption by RATs.« less
  2. ABSTRACT Molecular hydrogen is the main constituent of dense molecular clouds, but is expected to also be a dominant constituent in many environments where CO can no longer be seen, the so-called ‘CO-dark molecular gas’. Based on comparisons of ultraviolet spectroscopy of H2 and optical line observations (4300 Å), CH is a prime candidate to trace H2. Since the optical line (and the UV lines at 3143, 3890, and 3878 Å) require bright background sources (and the CH N = 2←1 ground state rotation line at 149 µm requires space-based, or stratospheric, observations), the hyperfine structure transition at 3335 MHz is a potentially important tool for probing the CO-dark molecular gas. However, the excitation of this transition is complicated, and has often been found to be inverted, making column density determinations uncertain. To clarify the potential use of the 3.3-GHz line as a proxy for H2, we have observed the CH 3335-MHz line with the Arecibo 305-m radio telescope along 16 lines of sight towards stars with existing measurements of the 4300-Å line. By comparing the CH column densities from optical and UV absorption lines to the CH radio emission line, we can derive the excitation temperature (Tex) of the 3335-MHz transition. Wemore »obtain a wide range of excitation temperatures for nine lines of sight, including some with |Tex| < 5 K. The common assumption that Tex for the 3335-MHz line is always much larger than the background temperature (Tbg) is not always warranted and can lead to significant errors in the value of N(CH).« less