Growth of asteroids, planetary embryos and Kuiper belt objects by chondrule accretion

Anders Johansen, Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, Pedro Lacerda

Science Advances
accepted for publication, submitted 25 March 2015


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Chondrules are millimeter-sized spherules that dominate primitive meteorites (chondrites) originating from the asteroid belt. The incorporation of chondrules into asteroidal bodies must be an important step in planet formation, but the mechanism is not understood. We show that the main growth of asteroids can result from gas-drag-assisted accretion of chondrules. The largest planetesimals of a population with a characteristic radius of 100 km undergo run-away accretion of chondrules within ~3 Myr, forming planetary embryos up to Mars sizes along with smaller asteroids whose size distribution matches that of main belt asteroids. The aerodynamical accretion leads to size-sorting of chondrules consistent with chondrites. Accretion of mm-sized chondrules and ice particles drives the growth of planetesimals beyond the ice line as well, but the growth time increases above the disk life time outside of 25 AU. The contribution of direct planetesimal accretion to the growth of both asteroids and Kuiper belt objects is minor. In contrast, planetesimal accretion and chondrule accretion play more equal roles for the formation of Moon-sized embryos in the terrestrial planet formation region. These embryos are isolated from each other and accrete planetesimals only at a low rate. However, the continued accretion of chondrules destabilizes the oligarchic configuration and leads to the formation of Mars-sized embryos and terrestrial planets by a combination of direct chondrule accretion and giant impacts. which is at present the sole large crustal sample of the UPB. The δ56Fe of the whole rocks fall within a restricted range, from 0.01 to 0.11‰, with an average of +0.056±0.008‰+0.056±0.008‰, which is significantly higher than that of chondrites. We show that this difference can be ascribed to the segregation of S-rich metallic melts at low degrees of melting at a temperature close to the Fe–FeS eutectic, and certainly before the onset of the melting of the silicates (View the MathML source<1100°C), in agreement with the marked S depletions, and the siderophile element abundances of the ureilites. These results point to an efficient segregation of S-rich metallic melts during the differentiation of small terrestrial bodies.[/su_quote]