Author(s): Maarten Baes, Herwig Dejonghe
Accurate photometric and kinematic modelling of disc galaxies requires the inclusion of radiative transfer models. Due to the complexity of the radiative transfer equation (RTE), sophisticated techniques are required. Various techniques have been employed for the attenuation in disc galaxies, but a quantitative comparison of them is difficult, because of the differing assumptions, approximations and accuracy requirements which are adopted in the literature. In this paper, we present an unbiased comparison of four methods to solve the RTE, in terms of accuracy, efficiency and flexibility. We apply them all on one problem that can serve as a first approximation of large portions of disc galaxies: a one-dimensional plane-parallel geometry, with both absorption and multiple scattering taken into account, with an arbitrary vertical distributions of stars and dust and an arbitrary angular redistribution of the scattering. We find that the spherical harmonics method is by far the most efficient way to solve the RTE, whereas both Monte Carlo simulations and the iteration method, which are straightforward to extend to more complex geometries, have a cost which is about 170 times larger.