Tom Davison

The University of Chicago

Hypervelocity impacts: Their role in the thermal evolution of planetesimals


Clues to the formation of the Solar System are recorded in chondritic meteorites, chunks of asteroids that preserve a record of the conditions and processes that operated ~4.6 billion years ago. Chondritic meteorites preserve a record of heating as they come in a variety of petrologic types, with each type defined by the level of thermal metamorphism they experienced. The source of this heating is uncertain, though has largely been attributed to the decay of short-lived radionuclides. Heating in hypervelocity impacts between planetesimals has typically been ruled out as it would produce only local thermal anomalies and not the global scale heating thought to be necessary to match the meteorite record. I will present a quantitative analysis of impact processes and post-impact cooling to show whether or not impacts were an important heat source in the early Solar System.

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