Volume 542, June 2012
|Number of page(s)
|Planets and planetary systems
|12 June 2012
Crossing barriers in planetesimal formation: The growth of mm-dust aggregates with large constituent grains
Fakultät für Physik, Universität Duisburg-Essen,
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC, Glorieta de la Astronomia s/n, 18008 Granada, Spain
3 Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi e Attivitá Spaziali (CISAS) “G. Colombo”, Universitá di Padova, via Venezia 15, 35131 Padova, Italy
Received: 8 February 2012
Accepted: 23 March 2012
Collisions of mm-size dust aggregates play a crucial role in the early phases of planet formation. It is for example currently unclear whether there is a bouncing barrier where millimeter aggregates no longer grow by sticking. We developed a laboratory setup that allowed us to observe collisions of dust aggregates levitating at mbar pressures and elevated temperatures of 800 K. We report on collisions between basalt dust aggregates of from 0.3 to 5 mm in size at velocities between 0.1 and 15 cm/s. Individual grains are smaller than 25 μm in size. We find that for all impact energies in the studied range sticking occurs at a probability of 32.1 ± 2.5% on average. In general, the sticking probability decreases with increasing impact parameter. The sticking probability increases with energy density (impact energy per contact area). We also observe collisions of aggregates that were formed by a previous sticking of two larger aggregates. Partners of these aggregates can be detached by a second collision with a probability of on average 19.8 ± 4.0%. The measured accretion efficiencies are remarkably high compared to other experimental results. We attribute this to the relatively large dust grains used in our experiments, which make aggregates more susceptible to restructuring and energy dissipation. Collisional hardening by compaction might not occur as the aggregates are already very compact with only 54 ± 1% porosity. The disassembly of previously grown aggregates in collisions might stall further aggregate growth. However, owing to the levitation technique and the limited data statistics, no conclusive statement about this aspect can yet be given. We find that the detachment efficiency decreases with increasing velocities and accretion dominates in the higher velocity range. For high accretion efficiencies, our experiments suggest that continued growth in the mm-range with larger constituent grains would be a viable way to produce larger aggregates, which might in turn form the seeds to proceed to growing planetesimals.
Key words: planets and satellites: formation / protoplanetary disks
© ESO, 2012
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