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The four-populations model: a new classification scheme for pre-planetesimal collisions

By Ralf J. Geretshauser, Farzana Meru, Roland Speith and Wilhelm Kley


Within the collision growth scenario for planetesimal formation, the growth step from centimetre sized pre-planetesimals to kilometre sized planetesimals is still unclear. The formation of larger objects from the highly porous pre-planetesimals may be halted by a combination of fragmentation in disruptive collisions and mutual rebound with compaction. However, the right amount of fragmentation is necessary to explain the observed dust features in late T Tauri discs. Therefore, detailed data on the outcome of pre-planetesimal collisions is required and has to be presented in a suitable and precise format. We propose and apply a new classification scheme for pre-planetesimal collisions based on the quantitative aspects of four fragment populations: the largest and second largest fragment, a power-law population, and a sub-resolution population. For the simulations of pre-planetesimal collisions, we adopt the SPH numerical scheme with extensions for the simulation of porous solid bodies. By means of laboratory benchmark experiments, this model was previously calibrated and tested for the correct simulation of the compaction, bouncing, and fragmentation behaviour of macroscopic highly porous silica dust aggregates. It is shown that previous attempts to map collision data were much too oriented on qualitatively categorising into sticking, bouncing, and fragmentation events. We show that the four-populations model encompasses all previous categorisations and in addition allows for transitions. This is because it is based on quantitative characteristic attributes of each population such as the mass, kinetic energy, and filling factor. As a demonstration of the applicability and the power of the four-populations model, we utilise it to present the results of a study on the influence of collision velocity in head-on collisions of intermediate porosity aggregates.Comment: 14 pages, 11 figures, 5 tables, to be published in Astronomy and Astrophysic

Topics: Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics, Physics - Computational Physics, Physics - Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability, Physics - Space Physics
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1051/0004-6361/201116901
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