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Gentle collisions between icy dust aggregates with applications to KBO formation

Presentation #219.05 in the session TNO (Poster)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Gentle collisions between icy dust aggregates with applications to KBO formation

Physical processes that drive planetesimal accretion, particularly from the mm- to km- scale are not well understood. Yet deciphering the growth of planetesimals that evolve into objects such as small asteroids and comets can illuminate Solar System formation and evolution and is important to the interpretation of observational data. While theoretical modeling is an essential tool for researching the formation of small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), assumptions are often made on grain behavior due to lack of experimental data. These assumptions typically do not integrate measured values for grain or aggregate interactions and are therefore limited in reproducing observed collision behaviors.

The work we are presenting focuses on low-energy impacts between weak aggregates composed of icy dust mixtures to contribute to our understanding of formation processes for small KBOs and comets, potentially explaining some of their internal and surface features. We have recorded low-speed collisions, in the m/s range, between mm- and cm-sized aggregates composed of either regolith only or regolith and water ice grains (0.1 mm irregular asteroid simulant grains in both cases). Icy aggregates were kept at temperatures below 150 K. We recorded the collision outcome – sticking, bouncing, fragmentation – and the coefficient of restitution in case of bouncing collisions. We show how the aggregate size and the presence of water ice grains influences the collision behavior.

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