Evolution of Interplanetary Dust Orbits

Computational modelling of the trajectories of small objects in orbits around stars enables a better understanding of the evolution of planetary systems and interplanetary dust.

Streams of dust and small debris are generated in the solar system by sublimating comets, object collisions, and the influx of interstellar dust. Due to the complex interaction of solar radiation effects with dust grains, combined with gravitational effects, the orbits of dust particles change over time.

These forces are well known and can be used to construct a numerical model of the orbits of interplanetary dust over long time periods, enabling a better understanding of the evolution of interplanetary dust and the estimation of the age of existing dust streams.

Given recent advances in exoplanetary imaging, this can also be applied to interpret images of dust rings and discs around other stars.  Opportunities exist to compare the results of numerical modelling with radar observations of meteor showers and spacecraft borne dust sensors to study the density and distribution of dust in the solar system.


Tagged in Honours projects - Physics, Honours Projects - Joel Younger, Honours Projects - Andrew MacKinnon, Honours in Physics subtheme - Space and atmospheric