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A Characterization of the Hot Infrared Background: The Infrared Cirrus, Zodiacal Dust Bands, and Solar System Dust Trails

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Final rept. 3 Jun 1987-31 Dec 1990

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Utilizing data from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, we have completed an investigation into the nature and properties of the principal components of the hot thermal background. These include the warm infrared cirrus, zodiacal dust bands, and cometary dust trails. A large set of high galactic latitude IRAS Skyflux maps have been cleaned using an image-space processor which we have developed. Using these enhanced infrared maps, 44 fields have been identified which exhibit hot 12 micron cirrus emission. Principal conclusions concerning dust bands and dust trails include the following A number of faint dust nand pairs have been discovered. Zodiacal dust bands arise from non-equilibrium dust production mechanisms in the asteroid belt, are globally associated with principal concentrations of asteroids the major Hirayama families, but fail in detail to be associated with local asteroid concentration e.g. the Flora region. Dust band particles have greater dispersion in their orbital elements than the asteroids from which they ultimately derive, providing evidence for collisional diffusion of dust elements. A survey of all cometary dust trails has been completed. Eight trails are found in association with known short-period comets. At least two comets have been discovered as a consequence of the detection of their associated dust trails. Trails are a general phenomena associated with all short-period comets and consisting of mm to cm-sized particles emitted at low velocities msec. Trails represent the primary masss loss mechanism for comets. It is suggested that comets have a significantly larger refractory mass fraction than has been determined previously.

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  • Atmospheric Physics
  • Infrared Detection and Detectors

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