Comet formation in collapsing pebble clouds. What cometary bulk density implies for the cloud mass and dust-to-ice ratio

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Monday, January 25, 2016

S. Lorek, B. Gundlach, P. Lacerda, J. Blum
(Submitted on 21 Jan 2016)

Comets are remnants of the icy planetesimals that formed beyond the ice line in the Solar Nebula. Growing from micrometre-sized dust and ice particles to km-sized objects is, however, difficult because of growth barriers and time scale constraints. The gravitational collapse of pebble clouds that formed through the streaming instability may provide a suitable mechanism for comet formation.
We study the collisional compression of cm-sized porous ice/dust-mixed pebbles in collapsing pebble clouds. For this, we developed a collision model for pebbles consisting of a mixture of ice and dust, characterised by their dust-to-ice mass ratio. Using the final compression of the pebbles, we constrain combinations of initial cloud mass, initial pepple porosity, and dust-to-ice ratio that lead to cometesimals which are consistent with observed bulk properties of cometary nuclei.

We find that observed high porosity and low density of ~0.5 g/cc of comet nuclei can only be explained if comets formed in clouds with mass approximately M>1e18 g. Lower mass clouds would only work if the pebbles were initially very compact. Furthermore, the dust-to-ice ratio must be in the range of between 3 and 9 to match the observed bulk properties of comet nuclei. (abridged version)

Comments: 14 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in A&A
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1601.05726 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1601.05726v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Sebastian Lorek
[v1] Thu, 21 Jan 2016 17:54:31 GMT (1090kb)

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