Imaging of a Circumsolar Dust Ring Near the Orbit of Venus

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Science  22 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6161, pp. 960-963
DOI: 10.1126/science.1243194

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Venus' Orbit in STEREO

Around Earth's orbit there is a circumsolar dust ring composed of particles of cometary and asteroidal origin. Tenuous dust rings are believed to be commonly associated with planets, but—other than around Earth—have not been detected. Now, Jones et al. (p. 960) have used observations from the solar terrestrial relations observatory (STEREO) to map a dust ring associated with the orbit of Venus.


The gravitational interaction of dust in the zodiacal cloud with individual planets is expected to give rise to ringlike features: Such a circumsolar ring has been observed associated with Earth, but such resonance rings have not been confirmed to exist for other planets. Here, we report on sensitive photometric observations, based on imaging from the STEREO mission, that confirm the existence of a dust ring at the orbit of Venus. The maximum overdensity of dust in this ring, compared to the zodiacal cloud, is ~10%. The radial density profile of this ring differs from the model used to describe Earth’s ring in that it has two distinct steplike components, with one step being interior and the other exterior to the orbit of Venus.

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