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Simulations of Giant Impacts: The Importance of High Resolution

Presentation #405.01 in the session Asteroids: Planetary Defense (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Simulations of Giant Impacts: The Importance of High Resolution

Giant impacts (GI) represent a crucial stage in the formation and evolution of planetary systems, determining their final structure, constituent masses, and compositions, as well as the presence of satellites. Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) is a widely used numerical method for modeling the dynamics of GI. Because resolution follows mass, low mass structures such as circumplanetary disks, planetary crusts, oceans, and atmospheres require ultra-high particle numbers to be resolved.

We present a novel SPH code built upon the modern gravity code pkdgrav3 which pushes GI simulations to the next level. We use a modern self-consistent SPH implementation with corrections for varying smoothing lengths and additional numerical improvements required for modeling GI. Our new code demonstrates excellent scalability, leveraging modern hardware capabilities such as CPU SIMD vectorization and GPU utilization for floating-point operations. The SPH implementation efficiently integrates neighbor finding and FMM tree code, preserving the O(N) scaling achieved in the gravity code.

Using this new code, we investigate various GI scenarios with unprecedented resolution, employing up to 2 billion particles. We show that increasing resolution reveals additional complexity in the material flow and affects the interaction of shock- and rarefaction waves as well as distribution of heat in the collision. These findings clearly highlight the importance of high-resolution GI simulations and its ability to simulate the complex nature of the collisions.

Future improvements to the capabilities of the code include state-of-the-art artificial viscosity limiters, artificial thermal conductivity, and material strength. These high-resolution simulations are critical for interpreting the wealth of information provided by ongoing and future missions, and for advancing our understanding of the formation and evolution of planetary systems.

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