Breaking through: The effects of a velocity distribution on barriers to dust growth
Universität Heidelberg, Zentrum für Astronomie, Institut für Theoretische
2 Excellence Cluster Universe, Boltzmannstr. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
3 University Observatory, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Scheinerstr. 1, 81679 Munich, Germany
4 Astronomy Department, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Received: 13 July 2012
Accepted: 30 July 2012
Context. It is unknown how far dust growth can proceed by coagulation. Obstacles to collisional growth are the fragmentation and bouncing barriers. However, in all previous simulations of the dust-size evolution, only the mean collision velocity has been considered, neglecting that a small but possibly important fraction of the collisions will occur at both much lower and higher velocities.
Aims. We study the effect of the probability distribution of impact velocities on the collisional dust growth barriers.
Methods. We assume a Maxwellian velocity distribution for colliding particles to determine the fraction of sticking, bouncing, and fragmentation, and implement this in a dust-size evolution code. We also calculate the probability of growing through the barriers and the growth timescale in these regimes.
Results. We find that the collisional growth barriers are not as sharp as previously thought. With the existence of low-velocity collisions, a small fraction of the particles manage to grow to masses orders of magnitude above the main population.
Conclusions. A particle velocity distribution softens the fragmentation barrier and removes the bouncing barrier. It broadens the size distribution in a natural way, allowing the largest particles to become the first seeds that initiate sweep-up growth towards planetesimal sizes.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / protoplanetary disks / planets and satellites: formation
© ESO, 2012