We performed optical observations of the Gegenschein using a liquid-nitrogen-cooled wide-field camera, the Wide-field Imager of Zodiacal light with ARray Detector (WIZARD), between 2003 March and 2006 November. We found a narrow brightness enhancement superimposed on the smooth gradient of the Gegenschein at the exact position of the antisolar point. Whereas the Gegenschein morphology changed according to the orbital motion of the Earth, the maximum brightness coincided with the antisolar direction throughout the year. We compared the observed morphology of the Gegenschein with those of models in which the spatial density of the interplanetary dust cloud was considered and found that the volume scattering phase function had a narrow backscattering enhancement. The morphology was reproducible with a spatial distribution model for infrared zodiacal emission. It is likely that the zero-phase peak (the so-called opposition effect) was caused by coherent backscattering and/or shadow-hiding effects on the rough surfaces of individual dust particles. These results suggest that big particles are responsible for both zodiacal light and zodiacal emission. Finally, we derived the geometric albedo of the smooth component of interplanetary dust, assuming big particles, and obtained a geometric albedo of 0.06 ± 0.01. The derived albedo is in accordance with collected dark micrometeorites and observed cometary dust particles. We concluded that chondritic particles are dominant near Earth space, supporting the recent theoretical study by dynamical simulation.
- comets: general
- instrumentation: miscellaneous
- interplanetary medium
- minor planets, asteroids: general
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science