Giant impact onto a Vesta-like asteroid and formation of mesosiderites through mixing of metallic core and surface crust

1Keisuke Sugiura,2Makiko K.Haba,1Hidenori Genda
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2022.114949]
1Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan
2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan
Copyright Elsevier

Mesosiderites are a type of stony-iron meteorites composed of a mixture of silicates and Fe-Ni metals. The mesosiderite silicates and metals are considered to have originated from the crust and metal core, respectively, of a differentiated asteroid. In contrast, mesosiderites rarely contain the olivine that is mainly included in a mantle. Although a giant impact onto a differentiated asteroid is considered to be a probable mechanism to mix crust and metal materials to form mesosiderites, it is not obvious how such a giant impact can form mesosiderite-like materials without including mantle materials. We conducted three-dimensional numerical simulations of giant impacts onto differentiated asteroids, using the smoothed particle hydrodynamics method, to investigate the detailed distribution of mixed materials on the resultant bodies. For the internal structure model of a target body, we used a thin-crust model derived from the magma ocean crystallization model of the asteroid Vesta. We also considered, as another possible internal structure for the target body, a thick crust and a large metal core suggested from the proximity observation of Vesta by the Dawn probe. In the simulations with the former model, excavation of the metal core requires nearly catastrophic impacts and mantle is exposed over large surface areas. Thus, stony-iron materials produced on its surface are likely to include mantle materials, and it is difficult to produce mesosiderite-like materials with this internal structure. Conversely, in the simulations with the latter model, mantle materials are exposed only at impact sites, even when the impacts excavate the metal core, and we confirmed that the formation of a surface with little mantle material and the formation of mesosiderite-like materials are possible from such a surface. Therefore, our simulations suggest that an internal structure with a thick crust and a large core is more likely as a mesosiderite parent body rather than the thin-crust internal structure inferred from the conventional magma ocean model.

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