Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, Ricardo Amils, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, William M. Irvine, Daniele L. Pinti, Michel Viso

Zodiacal Light

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-11274-4_1706


Asteroidal dust, cometary dust, dust, dust debris, exo-zodiacal clouds, gegenschein, IDPs, interplanetary dust, light scattering, meteors, zodiacal cloud (synonym: interplanetary dust cloud), zodiacal light, zodiacal thermal emission


The zodiacal light is a faint veil of light covering the Earth’s sky. Brighter towards the Sun and the ecliptic, it originates in solar light scattered by a cloud of dust particles, mostly of cometary and asteroidal origin. The increase of brightness, toward the Sun and the near-ecliptic region, indicates an increase in the space density of the interplanetary dust cloud, which has a lenticular shape around the Sun; a slight brightness enhancement toward the antisolar region (gegenschein) corresponds to a backscattering effect. Thermal emission from the zodiacal particles forms, away from the galactic plane, the most prominent component in the near-infrared sky.


Although some hints are suspected in ancient texts, Childrey (1661)...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Brorsen T (1854) Über eine neue Erscheinung am Zodiacallichtes. Geographie Witterungskunde 8:156–160Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UPMC Univ. Paris 6/LATMOS-IPSLParisFrance