Fragmentation of colliding planetesimals with water content

Thomas I. Maindl, Rudolf Dvorak, Christoph Schäfer, Roland Speith

Submitted on 8 Sep 2014
Submitted to IAU Symposium 310 Proceedings 4 pages, 2 figures



We investigate the outcome of collisions of Ceres-sized planetesimals composed of a rocky core and a shell of water ice. These collisions are not only relevant for explaining the formation of planetary embryos in early planetary systems, but also provide insight into the formation of asteroid families and possible water transport via colliding small bodies. Earlier studies show characteristic collision velocities exceeding the bodies’ mutual escape velocity which – along with the distribution of the impact angles – cover the collision outcome regimes ‘partial accretion’, ‘erosion’, and ‘hit-and-run’ leading to different expected fragmentation scenarios. Existing collision simulations use bodies composed of strengthless material; we study the distribution of fragments and their water contents considering the full elasto-plastic continuum mechanics equations also including brittle failure and fragmentation.