Impact splash chondrule formation during planetesimal recyclingOPEN ACCESS 

Tim Lichtenberg, Gregor J. Golabek, Cornelis P. Dullemond, Maria Schönbächler, Taras V. Gerya, Michael R. Meyer

accepted for publication in Icarus
associated blog article (6 Nov 2017)


“Chondrules are the dominant bulk silicate constituent of chondritic meteorites and originate from highly energetic, local processes during the first million years after the birth of the Sun. So far, an astrophysically consistent chondrule formation scenario, explaining major chemical, isotopic and textural features, remains elusive. Here, we examine the prospect of forming chondrules from planetesimal collisions. We show that intensely melted bodies with interior magma oceans became rapidly chemically equilibrated and physically differentiated. Therefore, collisional interactions among such bodies would have resulted in chondrule-like but basaltic spherules, which are not observed in the meteoritic record. This inconsistency with the expected dynamical interactions hints at an incomplete understanding of the planetary growth regime during the protoplanetary disk phase. To resolve this conundrum, we examine how the observed chemical and isotopic features of chondrules constrain the dynamical environment of accreting chondrite parent bodies by interpreting the meteoritic record as an impact-generated proxy of planetesimals that underwent repeated collision and reaccretion cycles. Using a coupled evolution-collision model we demonstrate that the vast majority of collisional debris feeding the asteroid main belt must be derived from planetesimals which were partially molten at maximum. Therefore, the precursors of chondrite parent bodies either formed primarily small, from sub-canonical aluminum-26 reservoirs, or collisional destruction mechanisms were efficient enough to shatter planetesimals before they reached the magma ocean phase. Finally, we outline the window in parameter space for which chondrule formation from planetesimal collisions can be reconciled with the meteoritic record and how our results can be used to further constrain early solar system dynamics. ”