Volume 536, December 2011
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||19 December 2011|
Collisions of inhomogeneous pre-planetesimals
1 Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Abteilung Computational Physics, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 10, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
2 Physikalisches Institut, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 14, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
Received: 7 July 2011
Accepted: 13 October 2011
Context. In the framework of the coagulation scenario, kilometre-sized planetesimals form by subsequent collisions of pre-planetesimals of sizes from centimetre to hundreds of metres. Pre-planetesimals are fluffy, porous dust aggregates, which are inhomogeneous owing to their collisional history. Planetesimal growth can be prevented by catastrophic disruption in pre-planetesimal collisions above the destruction velocity threshold.
Aims. We assess whether the inhomogeneity created by subsequent collisions has a significant influence on the stability of pre-planetesimal material to withstand catastrophic disruption. We wish to develop a model that is explicitly able to resolve any inhomogeneous structures. The input parameters of this model must be easily accessible from laboratory measurements.
Methods. We develop an inhomogeneity model based on the density distribution of dust aggregates, which is assumed to be a Gaussian distribution with a well-defined standard deviation. As a second input parameter, we consider the typical size of an inhomogeneous clump. For the simulation of the dust aggregates, we utilise a smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) code with extensions for modelling porous solid bodies. The porosity model was previously calibrated for the simulation of SiO2 dust, which commonly serves as an analogue for pre-planetesimal material. The inhomogeneity is imposed as an initial condition on the SPH particle distribution. We carry out collisions of centimetre-sized dust aggregates of intermediate porosity. We vary the standard deviation of the inhomogeneous distribution at fixed typical clump size. The collision outcome is categorised according to the four-population model.
Results. We show that inhomogeneous pre-planetesimals are more prone to destruction than homogeneous aggregates. Even slight inhomogeneities can lower the threshold for catastrophic disruption. For a fixed collision velocity, the sizes of the fragments decrease with increasing inhomogeneity.
Conclusions. Pre-planetesimals with an active collisional history tend to be weaker. This is a possible obstacle to collisional growth and needs to be taken into account in future studies of the coagulation scenario.
Key words: hydrodynamics / methods: numerical / planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability / protoplanetary disks / planets and satellites: formation
© ESO, 2011
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