Protostars and Planets VI, Heidelberg, July 15-20, 2013

Poster 2H023


Reinhardt, Christian (University of Zurich)
Stadel, Joachim (University of Zurich)

We studied the basic numerical aspects of giant impacts using Smoothed Particles Hydrodynamics (SPH), which has been used in most of the prior studies conducted in this area (e.g., Benz, Canup). Our main goal was to modify the massive parallel, multi-stepping code GASOLINE widely used in cosmological simulations so that it can properly simulate the behavior of condensed materials such as granite or iron using the Tillotson equation of state. GASOLINE has been used to simulate hundreds of millions of particles for ideal gas physics so that using several millions of particles in condensed material simulations seems possible. In order to focus our attention of the numerical aspects of the problem we neglected the internal structure of the protoplanets and modelled them as homogenous (isothermal) granite spheres. For the energy balance we only considered PdV work and shock heating of the material during the impact (neglected cooling of the material). Starting at a low resolution of 2048 particles for the target and the impactor we run several simulations for different impact parameters and impact velocities and successfully reproduced the main features of the pioneering work of Benz from 1986. The impact sends a shock wave through both bodies heating the target and disrupting the remaining impactor. As in prior simulations material is ejected from the collision. How much, and whether it leaves the system or survives in an orbit for a longer time, depends on the initial conditions but also on resolution. Increasing the resolution (to 1.2x10⁶ particles) results in both a much clearer shock wave and deformation of the bodies during the impact and a more compact and detailed \"arm\" like structure of the ejected material. Currently we are investigating some numerical issues we encountered and are implementing differentiated models, making one step closer to more realistic protoplanets in such giant impact simulations.

Click here to view poster PDF