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The Physics of Protoplanetesimal Dust Agglomerates. Vi. Erosion of Large Aggregates as a Source of Micrometer-Sized Particles

By Rainer Schräpler and Jürgen Blum


Observed protoplanetary disks consist of a large amount of micrometer-sized particles. Dullemond and Dominik (2005) pointed out for the first time the difficulty in explaining the strong mid-IR excess of classical T-Tauri stars without any dust-retention mechanisms. Because high relative velocities in between micrometer-sized and macroscopic particles exist in protoplanetary disks, we present experimental results on the erosion of macroscopic agglomerates consisting of micrometer-sized spherical particles via the impact of micrometer-sized particles. We find that after an initial phase, in which an impacting particle erodes up to 10 particles of an agglomerate, the impacting particles compress the agglomerate's surface, which partly passivates the agglomerates against erosion. Due to this effect the erosion halts within our error bars for impact velocities up to ~30 m/s. For larger velocities, the erosion is reduced by an order of magnitude. This outcome is explained and confirmed by a numerical model. In a next step we build an analytical disk model and implement the experimentally found erosive effect. The model shows that erosion is a strong source of micrometer-sized particles in a protoplanetary disk. Finally we use the stationary solution of this model to explain the amount of micrometer-sized particles in observational infrared data of Furlan et al. (2006)

Topics: Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1088/0004-637X/734/2/108
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