Sixteen years of Ulysses interstellar dust measurements in the Solar System. I. Mass distribution and gas-to-dust mass ratio
Publication date: 20 October 2015
Authors: Krüger, H., et al.
Journal: Astrophysical Journal
Copyright: © 2015. The American Astronomical Society
In the early 1990s, contemporary interstellar dust penetrating deep into the heliosphere was identified with the in situ dust detector on board the Ulysses spacecraft. Between 1992 and the end of 2007 Ulysses monitored the interstellar dust stream. The interstellar grains act as tracers of the physical conditions in the local interstellar medium (ISM) surrounding our solar system. Earlier analyses of the Ulysses interstellar dust data measured between 1992 and 1998 implied the existence of a population of "big" interstellar grains (up to 10-13 kg). The derived gas-to-dust-mass ratio was smaller than the one derived from astronomical observations, implying a concentration of interstellar dust in the very local ISM. In this paper we analyze the entire data set from 16 yr of Ulysses interstellar dust measurements in interplanetary space. This paper concentrates on the overall mass distribution of interstellar dust. An accompanying paper investigates time-variable phenomena in the Ulysses interstellar dust data, and in a third paper we present the results from dynamical modeling of the interstellar dust flow applied to Ulysses. We use the latest values for the interstellar hydrogen and helium densities, the interstellar helium flow speed of νISM∞ = 23.2 km s-1, and the ratio of radiation pressure to gravity, β, calculated for astronomical silicates. We find a gas-to-dust mass ratio in the local interstellar cloud of Rg/d = 193+85-57 and a dust density of (2.1 ± 0.6) × 10-24 kg m-3. For a higher inflow speed of 26 km s-1, the gas-to-dust mass ratio is 20% higher, and, accordingly, the dust density is lower by the same amount. The gas-to-dust mass ratio derived from our new analysis is compatible with the value most recently determined from astronomical observations.
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