Zodiacal Light beyond Earth Orbit Observed with Pioneer 10

T. Matsumoto, K. Tsumura, Y. Matsuoka, J. Pyo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


We reanalyze the Imaging Photopolarimeter data from Pioneer 10 to study the zodiacal light in the B and R bands beyond Earth orbit, applying an improved method to subtract integrated star light (ISL) and diffuse Galactic light (DGL). We found that there exists a significant instrumental offset, making it difficult to examine the absolute sky brightness. Instead, we analyzed the differential brightness, i.e., the difference in sky brightness from the average at high ecliptic latitude, and compared with that expected from the model zodiacal light. At a heliocentric distance of r < 2 au, we found a fairly good correlation between the J-band model zodiacal light and the residual sky brightness after subtracting the ISL and DGL. The reflectances of the interplanetary dust derived from the correlation study are marginally consistent with previous works. The zodiacal light is not significantly detectable at r > 3 au, as previously reported. However, a clear discrepancy from the model is found at r = 2.94 au which indicates the existence of a local dust cloud produced by the collision of asteroids or dust trail from active asteroids (or main-belt comets). Our result confirms that the main component of the zodiacal light (smooth cloud) is consistent with the model even beyond the earth orbit, which justifies the detection of the extragalactic background light after subtracting the zodiacal light based on the model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number86
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep


  • asteroids: general
  • interplanetary medium
  • minor planets
  • zodiacal dust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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