Polarization Simulations of Stellar Wind Bow Shock Nebulae - II. The Case of Dust Scattering

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We study the polarization produced by scattering from dust in a bow shock-shaped region of enhanced density surrounding a stellar source, using the Monte Carlo radiative transfer code SLIP. Bow shocks are structures formed by the interaction of the winds of fast-moving stars with the interstellar medium. Our previous study focused on the polarization produced in these structures by electron scattering; we showed that polarization is highly dependent on inclination angle and that multiple scattering changes the shape and degree of polarization. In contrast to electron scattering, dust scattering is wavelength-dependent, which changes the polarization behaviour. Here, we explore different dust particle sizes and compositions and generate polarized spectral energy distributions for each case. We find that the polarization spectral energy distribution behaviour depends on the dust composition and grain size. Including dust emission leads to polarization changes with temperature at higher optical depth in ways that are sensitive to the orientation of the bow shock. In various scenarios and under certain assumptions, our simulations can constrain the optical depth and dust properties of resolved and unresolved bow shock-shaped scattering regions. Constraints on optical depth can provide estimates of local interstellar medium density for observed bow shocks. We also study the impact of dust grains filling the region between the star and bow shock. We see that as the density of dust between the star and bow shock increases, the resulting polarization is suppressed for all the optical depth regimes.