Constraints on dust production in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt from Pioneer 10 and New Horizons measurements

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Abstract

[1] Impact ejecta and collisional debris from the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt are the dominant source of micron-sized grains in the outer solar system, as they slowly migrate inwards through the outer solar system before most grains are ejected during close encounters with Jupiter. These grains drive several phenomena in the outer solar system, including the generation of impact ejecta clouds at airless bodies, the formation of ionospheric layers and neutral gases in the atmospheres of the giant planets due to meteoric ablation, the generation of tenuous outer planetary ring systems and the spatial and compositional alteration of Saturn's main rings. Previous analyses have offered estimates of the net mass production rate from the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt both theoretically and observationally. In order to improve upon these estimates, we compare measurements of the interplanetary dust density in the outer solar system by both the Pioneer 10 meteoroid detector and the New Horizons Student Dust Counter with a dynamical dust grain tracing model. Our best estimates for the net mass production rate and the ejecta mass distribution power law exponent are (8.9 ± 0.5) × 105 g/s and 3.02 ± 0.04, respectively.

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