The filtering of interstellar dust in the solar system ⋆
1 Universität Stuttgart, IRS Pfaffenwaldring 31 70569 Stuttgart Germany
2 Max Planck Institut für Kernphysik, Saupfercheckweg 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
3 IGEP, TU Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstr. 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
4 ESA, PO Box 78, 28691 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
5 LASP, University of Colorado, 1234 Innovation Dr., Boulder, CO 80303-7814, USA
6 MPS, Max-Planck-Strasse 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
Received: 15 May 2012
Accepted: 19 February 2013
Context. Theoretical predictions demonstrate that small (<0.1 μm) interstellar grains are mostly excluded from reaching the planetary system by electromagnetic interactions in the heliopause region and in the inner heliosphere. Bigger interstellar grains have been recorded in the planetary system by dust measurements on board Ulysses and other spacecraft. It was found that the interstellar dust flux is modulated by the interplanetary magnetic field.
Aims. The objective of this study is to analyze the heliospheric filtering of the interstellar dust flow through the solar system and throughout the solar cycle. In the heliosphere the dynamics of interstellar dust is governed by the gravitational pull of the Sun, by the repulsion of solar radiation, and by the deflection caused by the interaction of the charged interstellar dust (ISD) grains with the interplanetary magnetic field. These interactions are described by the parameters of the radiation pressure constant β and the charge-to-mass ratio Q/m, which depend on the particle’s size, physical properties, and composition. A previous paper studied the flow characteristics of ISD moving through the solar system were studied. In this follow-up paper, we focus on how the ISD size distribution varies during its passage through the solar system.
Methods. In a parametric study of 70 different β and Q/m values, we calculated interstellar dust trajectories starting at the boundary of the heliosphere with starting times spread over a complete solar cycle of 22 years.
Results. As a result we obtained the interstellar dust flux and dust speed for these times and positions and demonstrate the effects of the filtering on the dust size distributions. The size distribution of ISD observed at any time and at any position in the planetary system is strongly modified from when it entered the heliosphere. Peaks in relative flux of 10 times the original flux possibly depend on the grain size and place and time in the solar system. We did a detailed study of three cases of the flux and size distribution of interstellar grains reaching the planets Saturn, Jupiter, and the main-belt asteroid Ceres. These cases are used to get a first idea of what a dust detector or collector on a mission to these bodies might see of ISD.
Key words: ISM: general / interplanetary medium
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© ESO, 2013