, Volume 274, Issue 1-2, pp 355-363

Impact Vaporization and Ionization of Cosmic Dust Particles

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We report on theoretical efforts to understand the process of vaporization and ion formation upon hypervelocity impact of small cosmic dust particles on a solid surface. Such collisions occur at the surface of solid bodies within the planetary system, which do not have an atmosphere as well as in various actual and upcoming space missions for in-situ measurements of interplanetary, interstellar and cometary dust. The investigation uses Godunov's method to simulate the impact. For the very high velocitites investigated, the impacting dust particle as well as parts of the target vaporize and some of the vapor cloud may change to partially ionized. Numerical results of the impact process are communicated for an 80 kms-1impact of a slightly porous SiO2 particle on a compact SiO2surface. Values of the amount of vapor and liquid excavated from the target are given. Ionization rates are calculated for the example investigated and an estimate is given how this extrapolates to the highest conceivable velocities in the planetary system (above 100 km s-1).

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.