Ejection of iron-bearing giant-impact fragments and the dynamical and geochemical influence of the fragment re-accretion

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hidenori Genda, Tsuyoshi Iizuka, Takanori Sasaki, Yuichiro Ueno, Masahiro Ikoma
(Submitted on 18 Apr 2017)

The Earth was born in violence. Many giant collisions of protoplanets are thought to have occurred during the terrestrial planet formation. Here we investigated the giant impact stage by using a hybrid code that consistently deals with the orbital evolution of protoplanets around the Sun and the details of processes during giant impacts between two protoplanets. A significant amount of materials (up to several tens of percent of the total mass of the protoplanets) is ejected by giant impacts. We call these ejected fragments the giant-impact fragments (GIFs). In some of the erosive hit-and-run and high-velocity collisions, metallic iron is also ejected, which comes from the colliding protoplanets' cores. From ten numerical simulations for the giant impact stage, we found that the mass fraction of metallic iron in GIFs ranges from ~ 1wt% to ~ 25wt%. We also discussed the effects of the GIFs on the dynamical and geochemical characteristics of formed terrestrial planets. We found that the GIFs have the potential to solve the following dynamical and geochemical conflicts: (1) The Earth, currently in a near circular orbit, is likely to have had a highly eccentric orbit during the giant impact stage. The GIFs are large enough in total mass to lower the eccentricity of the Earth to its current value via their dynamical friction. (2) The concentrations of highly siderophile elements (HSEs) in the Earth's mantle are greater than what was predicted experimentally. Re-accretion of the iron-bearing GIFs onto the Earth can contribute to the excess of HSEs. In addition, the estimated amount of iron-bearing GIFs provides significant reducing agent that could transform primitive CO2-H2O atmosphere and ocean into more reducing H2-bearing atmosphere. Thus, GIFs are important for the origin of Earth's life and its early evolution.

Comments:    Accepted for publication in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 33 pages, 7 figures, 1 table
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1704.05251 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1704.05251v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Hidenori Genda 
[v1] Tue, 18 Apr 2017 09:43:33 GMT (5573kb)

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