Did Earth eat its leftovers? Impact ejecta as a component of the late veneerOPEN ACCESS 

Philip J. Carter, Sarah T. Stewart

Draft version April 11, 2022, to be published in PSJ


Update (19 April 2022):
The Planetary Science Journal, Volume 3, Number 4

“The presence of highly siderophile elements in Earth’s mantle indicates that a small percentage of Earth’s mass was delivered after the last giant impact in a stage of ‘late accretion.’ There is ongoing debate about the nature of late-accreted material and the sizes of late-accreted bodies. Earth appears isotopically most similar to enstatite chondrites and achondrites. It has been suggested that late accretion must have been dominated by enstatite-like bodies that originated in the inner disk, rather than ordinary or carbonaceous chondrites. Here, we examine the provenances of ‘leftover’ planetesimals present in the inner disk in the late stages of accretion simulations. Dynamically excited planet formation produces planets and embryos with similar provenances, suggesting that the Moon-forming impactor may have had a stable isotope composition very similar to the proto-Earth. Commonly, some planetesimal-sized bodies with similar provenances to the Earth-like planets are left at the end of the main stage of growth. The most chemically-similar planetesimals are typically fragments of proto-planets ejected millions of years earlier. If these similar-provenance bodies are later accreted by the planet, they will represent late-accreted mass that naturally matches Earth’s composition. The planetesimal-sized bodies that exist during the giant impact phase can have large core mass fractions, with core provenances similar to the proto-Earth. These bodies are an important potential source for highly siderophile elements. The range of core fractions in leftover planetesimals complicates simple inferences as to the mass and origin of late accretion based on the highly siderophile elements in the mantle.”