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Growth of planetesimals by impacts at ∼25 m/s

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2005.04.002
  • Planetesimals
  • Planetary Formation
  • Collisional Physics
  • Solar Nebula
  • Experimental Techniques


Abstract We study central collisions between millimeter-sized dust projectiles and centimeter-sized dust targets in impact experiments. Target and projectile are dust aggregates consisting of micrometer-sized SiO 2 particles. Collision velocities range up to 25 m/s. The general outcome of a collision strongly depends on the impact velocity. For collisions below 13 m/s rebound and a small degree of fragmentation occur. However, at higher collision velocities up to 25 m/s approximately 50% of the mass of the projectile rigidly sticks to the target after the collision. Thus, net growth of a body is possible in high speed collisions. This supports the idea that planetesimal formation via collisional growth is a viable mechanism at higher impact velocities. Within our set of parameters the experiments even suggest that higher impact velocities might be preferable for growth in collisions between dusty bodies. For the highest impact velocities most of the ejecta is within small dust aggregates about 500 μm in size. In detail the size distribution of ejected dust aggregates is flat for very small particles smaller than 500 μm and follows a power law for larger ejected dust aggregates with a power of − 5.6 ± 0.2 . There is a sharp upper cut-off at about 1 mm in size with only a few particles being slightly larger. The ejection angle is smaller than 3° with respect to the target surface. These fast ejecta move with 40 ± 10 % of the impact velocity.

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