Thermal radiation from impact plumes

1Vladimir Svetsov, 1Valery Shuvalov
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article []
1Institute for Dynamics of Geospheres, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Plumes produced by the impacts of asteroids and comets consist of rock vapor and heated air. They emit visible light, ultraviolet, and infrared radiation, which can greatly affect the environment. We have carried out numerical simulations of the impacts of stony and cometary bodies with a diameter of 0.3, 1, and 3 km, which enter the atmosphere at various angles, using a hydrodynamic model supplemented by radiation transfer. We assumed that the cosmic object has no strength, and deforms, fragments, and vaporizes in the atmosphere. After the impact on the ground, the formation of craters and plumes was simulated, taking the internal friction of destroyed rocks and the trail formed in the atmosphere into account. The equation of radiative transfer, added to the equations of gas dynamics, was used in the approximation of radiative heat conduction or, if the Rosseland optical depth of a radiating volume of gas and vapor was less than unity, in the volume‐emission approximation. We used temperature and density distributions obtained in these simulations to calculate radiation fluxes on the Earth’s surface by integrating the equation of radiative transfer along rays passing through a luminous region. We used tables of the equation of state of dunite and quartz (for stony impactors and a target) and air, as well as tables of absorption coefficients of air, vapor of ordinary chondrite, and vapor of cometary material. We have calculated the radiation impulse on the ground and the impact radiation efficiency (a ratio of thermal radiation energy incident on the ground to the kinetic energy of a body), which ranges from ~0.5% to ~9%, depending on the impactor size and the angle of entry into the atmosphere. Direct thermal radiation from fireballs and impact plumes, poses a great danger to people, animals, plants, and economic objects. After the impacts of asteroids at a speed of 20 km s−1 at an angle of 45°, a fire can occur at a distance of 250 km if the asteroid has a diameter of 0.3 km, and at a distance of 2000 km if the diameter is 3 km.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s