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On the Improbability of Mars’ Satellites Being Captured Fragments of Mars-embryo or Embryo-embryo Collisions

Presentation #217.09 in the session Mars’ and Martian Moons’ Surface Properties and Composition (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
On the Improbability of Mars’ Satellites Being Captured Fragments of Mars-embryo or Embryo-embryo Collisions

It has been suggested that Mars’ satellites, Phobos and Deimos, might have been the fragments of a common progenitor (e.g., a planetary embryo) that was disrupted either through a collision with Mars or with another planetary embryo. We have examined the viability of these scenarios by determining the rates of their occurrence during the formation of terrestrial planets. We carried out a large number of the simulations of the late stage of terrestrial planet formation where planetary embryos undergo giant impacts while submerged in an ocean of small planetesimals. We identified all simulations that resulted in the formation of Mars analogs, and within those simulations, identified instances where 1) a planetary embryo collided with Mars, and 2) embryo-embryo collisions occurred in the vicinity of the fully formed planet. Results of our analysis show that in simulation that resulted in the formation of Mars analogs, the probability of the occurrence of the above two scenarios (i.e., Mars-embryo and embryo-embryo collisions) is no more than 3 percent. Within those systems where the collisions occur, the probability that the size of the fragments would be in the size-range of Mars’ satellites are also only a few percent. While such a low percentage still presents a probability, it does suggest that other scenarios such as post-formation capture of objects originated in the asteroid belt, may be a more viable pathway to the origin and formation of Mars’ satellites. We preset the details of our simulations and discuss the implications of the results.

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