Status Report

Atmospheric Mass Loss During Planet Formation

By SpaceRef Editor
June 26, 2014
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Atmospheric Mass Loss During Planet Formation

We quantify the atmospheric mass loss during planet formation by examining the contributions to atmospheric loss from both giant impacts and planetesimal accretion. Giant impacts cause global motion of the ground. Using analytic self-similar solutions and full numerical integrations we find (for isothermal atmospheres with adiabatic index (γ=5/3) that the local atmospheric mass loss fraction for ground velocities v g <0.25 v esc is given by χ loss =(1.71 v g / v esc ) 4.9 , where v esc is the escape velocity from the target.

Yet, the global atmospheric mass loss is a weaker function of the impactor velocity v Imp and mass m Imp and given by X loss  0.4x+1.4 x 2 −0.8 x 3 (isothermal atmosphere) and X loss  0.4x+1.8 x 2 −1.2 x 3 (adiabatic atmosphere), where x=( v Imp m/ v esc M) . Atmospheric mass loss due to planetesimal impacts proceeds in two different regimes: 1) Large enough impactors m> 2√ ρ 0 (πhR ) 3/2 (25~km for the current Earth), are able to eject all the atmosphere above the tangent plane of the impact site, which is h/2R of the whole atmosphere, where h , R and ρ 0 are the atmospheric scale height, radius of the target, and its atmospheric density at the ground. 2) Smaller impactors, but above m>4π ρ 0 h 3

(1~km for the current Earth) are only able to eject a fraction of the atmospheric mass above the tangent plane. We find that the most efficient impactors (per unit impactor mass) for atmospheric loss are planetesimals just above that lower limit and that the current atmosphere of the Earth could have resulted from an equilibrium between atmospheric erosion and volatile delivery to the atmosphere from planetesimals. We conclude that planetesimal impacts are likely to have played a major role in atmospheric mass loss over the formation history of the terrestrial planets. (Abridged)

Hilke Schlichting (MIT), Re’em Sari (Hebrew University), Almog Yalinewich (Hebrew University)

(Submitted on 25 Jun 2014)


Submitted to Icarus, 36 pages, 14 figures


Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as:

arXiv:1406.6435 [astro-ph.EP]

 (or arXiv:1406.6435v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Hilke Schlichting 

[v1] Wed, 25 Jun 2014 01:51:31 GMT (1894kb,D)



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