Polarization of the Interplanetary Dust Medium (Invited)

Abstract : The interplanetary dust cloud is visible through its scattered light (the zodiacal light) at visible wavelengths. Brightness observations lead to equilibrium temperature and albedo of the particles and their variation as a function of the heliocentric distance. The light scattered by this optically thin medium is linearly polarized with negative values of the degree of linear polarization, PQ, in the backscattering region. We will review the zodiacal light photopolarimetric observations from the whole line–of-sight integrated values to the local values retrieved by inversion. Whenever available, the local PQ variation as a function of the phase angle presents a phase curve with a small negative branch and large positive branch similar to comets or asteroids. PQ does not seem to show a wavelength variation. The maximum of polarization decreases with decreasing heliocentric distance. A circular polarization signal may be present in parts of the sky. Both numerical simulations and laboratory experiments of light scattering by irregular particles have been performed to constrain the interplanetary dust properties based on their polarimetric signature. These studies indicate that mixtures of low-absorption (Mg-silicates) and high-absorption (carbonaceous) particles can explain the intensity and polarimetric observations of the zodiacal cloud. The variations with the heliocentric distance may be due to decreasing carbonaceous content of the dust cloud. Such models would favor a significant proportion of aggregates and absorbing particles in the interplanetary dust medium, indicative of a major cometary dust contribution. The exact origin (asteroidal, cometary, interstellar) and physical properties of the dust particles contributing to the zodiacal cloud is still debated and will be more constrained with future observations. New high-resolution systems will monitor the zodiacal light from the ground and new results are expected from upcoming space missions.
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Contributor : Catherine Cardon <>
Submitted on : Saturday, December 26, 2015 - 5:59:22 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 11:03:58 AM

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  • HAL Id : insu-01248468, version 1

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Jérémie Lasue, Anny Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, Edith Hadamcik. Polarization of the Interplanetary Dust Medium (Invited). AGU Fall Meeting 2015, Dec 2015, San Francisco, United States. pp.P34B-01. ⟨insu-01248468⟩

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