Thermal stresses in small meteoroids*
Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences,
Fričova 298, 251 65 Ondřejov, Czech Republic e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Institute of Astronomy, Charles University, V Holešovičkách 2, 180 00 Prague 8, Czech Republic e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 24 April 2010
Aims. We evaluate thermal stresses in small, spherical, and homogeneous meteoroids with elastic rheology and regular rotation. The temperature variations are caused by the absorbed sunlight energy being conducted into the interior layers of the body. Our model assumes arbitrary thermal conductivity value, but restricts itself to a linearized treatment of the boundary conditions of the heat diffusion problem. We consider the diurnal insolation cycle only as if the body were in a fixed position along its heliocentric orbit. This constrains the upper limit to the object size to which our modeling is applicable.
Methods. We derive analytical expressions for the components of the thermal stress tensor throughout the body. Using two sets of material properties (ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites), we study the conditions required for material failure caused by thermal stress leading to fission.
Results. Our results indicate that the onset of thermal failure in the meteoroid depends on a number of parameters including the heliocentric distance, the size, the rotation frequency, and the orientation of the spin axis with respect to the solar direction. In our case, we find large, centimeter- to meter-size, slowly rotating meteoroids or those with a spin axis pointing towards the Sun or both, are the most susceptible to the thermal bursting. This may have implications for the (i) size distribution of meteoroids in various streams depending on their heliocentric orbit and the physical characteristics of their parent bodies; (ii) orbital distribution of sporadic complexes of meteoroids in the planet-crossing zone; and/or (iii) fate of fragments released during comet disintegration events, especially those with low perihelia (e.g., Kreutz class).
Key words: meteorites, meteors, meteoroids / minor planets, asteroids: general / methods: analytical
Appendix A is only available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2010