A hydrodynamic mechanism of meteor ablation
The melt-spraying model⋆
Odesa National Maritime University, Mechnikova str., 34, 65029 Odesa, Ukraine
Received: 20 August 2016
Accepted: 26 June 2017
Context. Hydrodynamic conditions are similar in a molten meteoroid and a liquid drop in a high-speed airflow. Despite the fact that the latter is well-studied, both experimentally and theoretically, hydrodynamic instability theory has not been applied to study the fragmentation of molten meteoroids.
Aims. We aim to treat quasi-continuous spraying of meteoroid melt due to hydrodynamic instability as a possible mechanism of ablation. Our objectives are to calculate the time development of particle release, the released particle sizes and their distribution by sizes, as well as the meteoroid mass loss law.
Methods. We have applied gradient instability theory to model the behaviour of the meteoroid melt layer and its interaction with the atmosphere. We have assumed a spherical meteoroid and that the meteoroid has a shallow entry angle, such that the density of the air stream interacting with the meteoroid is nearly constant.
Results. High-frequency spraying of the molten meteoroid is numerically simulated. The intermediate and final size distributions of released particles are calculated, as well as the meteoroid mass loss law. Fast and slow meteoroids of iron and stone compositions are modelled, resulting in significant differences in the size distribution of melt particles sprayed from each meteoroid. Less viscous iron melt produces finer particles and a denser aerosol wake than a stony one does.
Conclusions. Analysis of the critical conditions for the gradient instability mechanism shows that the dynamic pressure of the air-stream at heights up to 100 km is sufficient to overcome surface tension forces and pull out liquid particles from the meteoroid melt by means of unstable disturbances. Hence, the proposed melt-spraying model is able to explain quasi-continuous mode of meteoroid fragmentation at large heights and low dynamic pressures. A closed-form solution of the meteoroid ablation problem is obtained due to the melt-spraying model usage, at the meteoroid composition, initial radius and velocity being given.
Key words: hydrodynamics / atmospheric effects / methods: numerical / methods: analytical / meteorites, meteors, meteoroids / instabilities
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© ESO, 2017