Analytical model of impact disruption of satellites and asteroids

Leliwa-Kopystyński, J., Włodarczyk, I., Burchell, M. J.


268, 2016, 266-280, 10.1016/j.icarus.2015.12.023

A model of impact disruption of the bodies with sizes from the laboratory scale to that of an order of 100 km is developed. On the lowermost end of the target size the model is based on the numerous laboratory data related to the mass–velocity distribution of the impact produced fragments. On the minor-planets scale the model is supported by the data related to the largest observed craters on small icy satellites and on some asteroids (Leliwa-Kopystynski, J., Burchell, M.J., Lowen, D. [2008]. Icarus 195, 817–826). The model takes into account the target disruption and the dispersion of the impact produced fragments against the intermolecular forces acting on the surfaces of the contacts of the fragments and against self-gravitation of the target. The head-on collisions of non-rotating and non-porous targets and impactors are considered. The impactor delivers kinetic energy but its mass is neglected in comparison to mass of the target. For this simple case the analytical formulae for specific disruption energy as well as for specific energy of formation of the largest craters are found. They depend on a set of parameters. Of these the most important (i.e. with the greatest influence on the final result) are three rather weakly known parameters. They are: (i) The exponent γ in the distribution function of the fragments. (ii) The characteristic velocity v0 that appears in the velocity distribution of the ejected fragments. (iii) The exponent β in the mass–velocity distribution. The influence of the choice of the numerical values of these parameters on the final results has been studied. Another group of parameters contains the relevant material data. They are: (a) The energy σ of breaking of the intermolecular bonds of the target material per unit of the fragment surface and (b) the density ρ of the target. According to our calculations the transition between the strength regime and the gravitational regime is in the range of the target radius from ∼0.4 km to ∼4 km. This estimate holds within a large range of parameters.

An application of the results for impact cratering and/or for disruption of satellites and asteroids requires data concerning the impactor energy. We have considered rocky–rocky impacts (an asteroid on an asteroid) and icy–icy impacts (a satellite impacted by a comet). Hypothetical impacts onto some particular asteroids and satellites are discussed as examples.