37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 14 Asteroid Discovery and Dynamics
Poster, Monday, September 5, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Foyer

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[14.09] Rigid aggregates: theory and applications

D. C. Richardson (U Maryland)

Numerical models employing ``perfect'' self-gravitating rubble piles that consist of monodisperse rigid spheres with configurable contact dissipation have been used to explore collisional and rotational disruption of gravitational aggregates. Applications of these simple models include numerical simulations of planetesimal evolution, asteroid family formation, tidal disruption, and binary asteroid formation. These studies may be limited by the idealized nature of the rubble pile model, since perfect identical spheres stack and shear in a very specific, possibly over-idealized way. To investigate how constituent properties affect the overall characteristics of a gravitational aggregate, particularly its failure modes, we have generalized our numerical code to model colliding, self-gravitating, rigid aggregates made up of variable-size spheres. Euler's equation of rigid-body motion in the presence of external torques are implemented, along with a self-consistent prescription for handling non-central impacts. Simple rules for sticking and breaking are also included. Preliminary results will be presented showing the failure modes of gravitational aggregates made up of smaller, rigid, non-idealized components. Applications of this new capability include more realistic aggregate models, convenient modeling of arbitrary rigid shapes for studies of the stability of orbiting companions (replacing one or both bodies with rigid aggregates eliminates expensive interparticle collisions while preserving the shape, spin, and gravity field of the bodies), and sticky particle aggregation in dense planetary rings. This material is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. NAG511722 issued through the Office of Space Science and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST0307549.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
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