ALMA Observations of Polarization from Dust Scattering in the im Lup Protoplanetary Disk

Charles L.H. Hull, Haifeng Yang, Zhi Yun Li, Akimasa Kataoka, Ian W. Stephens, Sean Andrews, Xuening Bai, L. Ilsedore Cleeves, A. Meredith Hughes, Leslie Looney, Laura M. Pérez, David Wilner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present 870 μm ALMA observations of polarized dust emission toward the Class II protoplanetary disk IM Lup. We find that the orientation of the polarized emission is along the minor axis of the disk, and that the value of the polarization fraction increases steadily toward the center of the disk, reaching a peak value of ∼1.1%. All of these characteristics are consistent with models of self-scattering of submillimeter-wave emission from an optically thin inclined disk. The distribution of the polarization position angles across the disk reveals that, while the average orientation is along the minor axis, the polarization orientations show a significant spread in angles; this can also be explained by models of pure scattering. We compare the polarization with that of the Class I/II source HL Tau. A comparison of cuts of the polarization fraction across the major and minor axes of both sources reveals that IM Lup has a substantially higher polarization fraction than HL Tau toward the center of the disk. This enhanced polarization fraction could be due a number of factors, including higher optical depth in HL Tau, or scattering by larger dust grains in the more evolved IM Lup disk. However, models yield similar maximum grain sizes for both HL Tau (72 μm) and IM Lup (61 μm, this work). This reveals continued tension between grain-size estimates from scattering models and from models of the dust emission spectrum, which find that the bulk of the (unpolarized) emission in disks is most likely due to millimeter-sized (or even centimeter-sized) grains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number82
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2018


  • polarization
  • protoplanetary disks
  • scattering
  • stars: formation
  • stars: protostars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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