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Zodiacal Dust Bands

  • S. F. Dermott (a1), D. D. Durda (a1), B. A. S. Gustafson (a1), S. Jayaraman (a1), J. C. Liou (a1) and Y. L. XU (a1)...

Abstract

One of the outstanding problems in solar system science is the source of the particles that constitute the zodiacal cloud. The zodiacal dust bands discovered by IRAS have a pivotal role in this debate because, without doubt, they are the small, tail end products of asteroidal collisions. Geometrical arguments are probably the strongest and the plane of symmetry of the dust bands places their source firmly in the asteroid belt. A cometary source, Comet Encke for example, could exist at the distance of the mainbelt, but the dynamics of cometary orbits makes the formation of cometary dust bands impossible, unless, of course, there is a significant (comparable in volume to the asteroidal families) source of comets interior to the orbit of Jupiter with low (asteroidal) orbital eccentricities. We have suggested that the dust bands are associated with the prominent asteroidal families. The link with the Themis and Koronis families is good but the link with Eos remains to be proved. We show here by detailed modeling that even though the filtered infrared flux in the 25μm waveband associated with the dust bands is only ~1% of the total signal, this is only the “tip of the iceberg” and that asteroidal dust associated with the bands constitutes ~10% of the zodiacal cloud. This result, plus the observed size-frequency distribution of mainbelt asteroids and the observed ratio of the number of family to non-family asteroids allows us to estimate that asteroidal dust accounts for about one third of the zodiacal cloud. The discovery of the “leading-trailing” asymmetry of the zodiacal cloud in the IRAS data and our interpretation of this asymmetry in terms of a ring of asteroidal particles in resonant lock with the Earth is important for two reasons. (1) The existence of the ring strongly suggests that large (diameter ≥ 12μm) asteroidal particles (or particles with low orbital eccentricities) are transported to the inner solar system by drag forces. (2) The observed ratio of the trailing-leading asymmetry allows an independent estimate of the contribution of asteroidal particles to the zodiacal cloud. These new results have important implications for the source of the interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) collected at the Earth. Because asteroidal particles constitute about one third of the zodiacal cloud and are transported to the inner solar system by drag forces, gravitational focussing by the Earth that results in the preferential capture of particles from orbits with low inclinations and low eccentricities and the possible “funneling” effect of the ring itself, imply that nearly all of the unmelted IDPs collected at the Earth are asteroidal.

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References

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