Evaluating planetesimal bow shocks as sites for chondrule formation

Fred J. Ciesla, Lon L. Hood, Stuart J. Weidenschilling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


We investigate the possible formation of chondrules by planetesimal bow shocks. The formation of such shocks is modeled using a piecewise parabolic method (PPM) code under a variety of conditions. The results of this modeling are used as a guide to study chondrule formation in a one-dimensional, finite shock wave. This model considers a mixture of chondrule-sized particles and micron-sized dust and models the kinetic vaporization of the solids. We found that only planetesimals with a radius of ∼1000 km and moving at least ∼8 km/s with respect to the nebular gas can generate shocks that would allow chondrule-sized particles to have peak temperatures and cooling rates that are generally consistent with what has been inferred for chondrules. Planetesimals with smaller radii tend to produce lower peak temperatures and cooling rates that are too high. However, the peak temperatures of chondrules are only matched for low values of chondrule wavelength-averaged emissivity. Very slow cooling (<∼100s of K/hr) can only be achieved if the nebular opacity is low, which may result after a significant amount of material has been accreted into objects that are chondrule-sized or larger, or if chondrules formed in regions of the nebula with small dust concentrations. Large shock waves of approximately the same scale as those formed by gravitational instabilities or tidal interactions between the nebula and a young Jupiter do not require this to match the inferred thermal histories of chondrules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1809-1821
Number of pages13
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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