Kedron Silsbee, Bruce T. Draine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We investigate the claim that the ratio β of radiation pressure force to gravitational force on a dust grain in our solar system can substantially exceed unity for some grain sizes, provided that grain porosity is high enough. For model grains consisting of random aggregates of silicate spherules, we find that the maximum value of β is almost independent of grain porosity, but for small () grains, β actually decreases with increasing porosity. We also investigate the effect of metallic iron and amorphous carbon inclusions in the dust grains and find that while these inclusions do increase the radiation pressure cross-section, β remains below unity for grains with 3 pg of silicate material. These results affect the interpretation of the grain trajectories estimated from the Stardust mission, which were modeled assuming β values exceeding one. We find that radiation pressure effects are not large enough for particles Orion and Hylabrook captured by Stardust to be of interstellar origin given their reported impact velocities. We also consider the effects of solar radiation on transverse velocities and grain spin, and show that radiation pressure introduces both transverse velocities and equatorial spin velocities of several hundred meters per second for incoming interstellar grains at 2 au. These transverse velocities are not important for modeling trajectories, but such spin rates may result in centrifugal disruption of aggregates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number133
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • dust
  • extinction-interplanetary medium-ISM: kinematics and dynamics-local interstellar matter-radiation: dynamics


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