Planetary embryo collisions and the wiggly nature of extreme debris discs

Lewis Watt, Zoe Leinhardt, Kate Y.L. Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In this paper, we present results from a multistage numerical campaign to begin to explain and determine why extreme debris disc detections are rare, what types of impacts will result in extreme debris discs and what we can learn about the parameters of the collision from the extreme debris discs. We begin by simulating many giant impacts using a smoothed particle hydrodynamical code with tabulated equations of state and track the escaping vapour from the collision. Using an N-body code, we simulate the spatial evolution of the vapour generated dust post-impact. We show that impacts release vapour anisotropically not isotropically as has been assumed previously and that the distribution of the resulting generated dust is dependent on the mass ratio and impact angle of the collision. In addition, we show that the anisotropic distribution of post-collision dust can cause the formation or lack of formation of the short-term variation in flux depending on the orientation of the collision with respect to the orbit around the central star. Finally, our results suggest that there is a narrow region of semimajor axis where a vapour generated disc would be observable for any significant amount of time implying that giant impacts where most of the escaping mass is in vapour would not be observed often but this does not mean that the collisions are not occurring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2984-3002
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • circumstellar matter
  • methods: numerical
  • planets and satellites: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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