31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 33. Planet Formation: Collisions and Perturbations
Contributed Oral Parallel Session, Wednesday, October 13, 1999, 8:30-10:00am, Sala Kursaal

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[33.02] When Rubble Piles Collide...

D. C. Richardson, Z. M. Leinhardt, T. Quinn (U. Washington)

There is increasing evidence that many km-sized bodies in the Solar System may be rubble piles, gravitationally bound collections of solid material (Richardson, Bottke, & Love 1998, Icarus 134, 47). If true, then collisions may occur in free space between rubble piles. Here we present results from a project to map the parameter space of collisions between km-sized spherical rubble piles. The results will assist in parameterization of collision outcomes for Solar System formation models and may give insight into catastrophic disruption scaling laws. We use a direct numerical method (Richardson, Quinn, Stadel, & Lake 1999, Icarus, in press) to evolve the positions and velocities of the rubble pile particles under the constraints of gravity and physical collisions. We test the dependence of the collision outcomes on impact speed and angle, spin, mass ratio, and dissipation parameter. Speeds are kept low so that the maximum strain on the component material does not exceed the crushing strength, appropriate for dynamically cool systems such as the primordial disk during early planet formation. We compare our results with analytic estimates, laboratory experiments, hydrocode simulations, and stellar system collision models. We find that net accretion dominates the outcomes in head-on, slow encounters while net erosion dominates for off-axis, fast encounters. The dependence on impact angle is almost equally as important as the dependence on impact speed. Off-axis encounters can result in fast-spinning elongated remnants or contact binaries while fast encounters result in smaller fragments overall. Reaccumulation of debris escaping from the remnant can occur, leading to the formation of smaller rubble piles. Less than 2% of the system mass ends up in orbit around the remnant. Initial spin can reduce or enhance collision outcomes, depending on the relative orientation of the spin and orbital angular momenta. We derive a relationship between impact speed and angle for critial dispersal of mass in the system.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: dcr@astro.washington.edu

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