The formation and origin of the IRAS zodiacal dust bands as a consequence of single collisions between asteroids

Mark V. Sykes, Richard Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Scopus citations


The zodiacal dust bands discovered by IRAS can be explained as products of single collisions between asteroids. Debris from such a collision is distributed about the plane of the ecliptic as particles experience differential precession of their ascending nodes due to dispersion of their semimajor axes. For each collision, two bands, one on each side of the ecliptic, are formed on time scales of 105 to 106 years. The band pairs observed by IRAS are most likely the result of collisions between asteroids ∼15 km in diameter that occured within the last several million years. Further analysis of the IRAS sky survey data and of any future, more sensitive surveys should reveal additional, fainter band pairs. Our model suggests that asteroid collisions are sufficient to account for the bulk of the observed zodiacal thermal emission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-69
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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