The Macroporosity of Rubble Pile Asteroid Ryugu and Implications for the Origin of ChondrulesOPEN ACCESS 

William Herbst, James P. Greenwood, Teng Ee Yap

Accepted for publication in the Planetary Science Journal


“We use the known surface boulder-size distribution of the C-type rubble pile asteroid Ryugu (NEA 162173) to determine its macroporosity, assuming it is a homogeneous granular aggregate. We show that the volume-frequency distribution of its boulders, cobbles and pebbles, is well represented by a lognormal function with σ=2.4±0.1 and μ=0.2±0.05. Application of linear-mixture packing theory yields a value for the macroporosity of ϕ=0.14±0.04. Given its low bulk density of 1.19 gm cm−3, this implies an average density for Ryugu’s rocks of 1.38±0.07 gm cm−3 throughout its volume, consistent with a recent determination for surface boulders based on their thermal properties. This supports the spectrum-based argument that IDP’s may be the best analog material available on Earth and suggests that high-density, well-lithified objects such as chondrules and chondrule-bearing chondrites may be rare on Ryugu. Implications of this result for the origin of chondrules, a long-standing problem in cosmochemistry, are discussed. We propose that chondrules and most chondrites formed together in rare lithification events, which occurred during the accretion of chondritic envelopes to large, differentiated planetesimals at a time when they were still hot from 26Al decay. “