Energy Dissipation in Large Collisions—No Change in Planet Formation Outcomes

Rogerio Deienno, Kevin J. Walsh, Katherine A. Kretke, and Harold F. Levison
Astrophysical Journal 876, 103 Link to Article [DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab16e1]
Department of Space Studies, Southwest Research Institute, 1050 Walnut St., Boulder, CO 80302, USA

It is often asserted that more accurate treatment of large collisions in planet formation simulations will lead to vastly different results—in particular a lower final angular momentum deficit (AMD—commonly used to measure orbital excitement). As nearly all simulations to date consider perfect merging (100% energy dissipation) during embryo–embryo collisions, and typically end up with an overexcited final terrestrial planetary system, it has been suggested that a better treatment of energy dissipation during large collisions could decrease the final dynamical excitation (or AMD). Although some work related to energy dissipation has been done (mostly during the runaway growth phase when planetesimals grow into protoplanets), this had never been fully tested in the post-runaway phase, where protoplanets (embryos) grow chaotically into planets via large collisions among themselves. In this work, we test varying amounts of energy dissipation within embryo–embryo collisions, by assuming a given coefficient of restitution for collisions. Our results show that varying the level of energy dissipated within embryo–embryo collisions do not play any important role in the final terrestrial planetary system. We have found a strong linear correlation in our results related to the final number of planets formed and the final AMD. Additionally, reproducing the current radial mass concentration of the terrestrial planets, even when starting from an annulus of material, is challenging when modeling growth from planetesimals to planets.

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