Realistic On-the-fly Outcomes of Planetary Collisions. II. Bringing Machine Learning to N-body Simulations

Alexandre Emsenhuber, Saverio Cambioni, Erik Asphaug, Travis S.J. Gabriel, Stephen R. Schwartz, Roberto Furfaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Terrestrial planet formation theory is at a bottleneck, with the growing realization that pairwise collisions are treated far too simply. Here, and in our companion paper that introduces the training methodology, we demonstrate the first application of machine learning to more realistically model the late stage of planet formation by giant impacts. We present surrogate models that give fast, reliable answers for the masses and velocities of the two largest remnants of a giant impact, as a function of the colliding masses and their impact velocity and angle, with the caveat that our training data do not yet include pre-impact rotation or variable thermal conditions. We compare canonical N-body scenarios of terrestrial planet formation assuming perfect merger with our more realistic treatment that includes inefficient accretions and hit-and-run collisions. The result is a protracted tail of final events lasting ∼200 Myr, and the conversion of about half the mass of the initial population to debris. We obtain profoundly different solar system architectures, featuring a much wider range of terrestrial planet masses and enhanced compositional diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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