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The giant impact produced a precipitated MoonThe author's current simulations of Giant Impacts on the protoearth show the development of large hot rock vapor atmospheres. The Balbus-Hawley mechanism will pump mass and angular momentum outwards in the equatorial plane; upon cooling and expansion the rock vapor will condense refractory material beyond the Roche distance, where it is available for lunar formation. During the last seven years, the author together with several colleagues has carried out a series of numerical investigations of the Giant Impact theory for the origin of the Moon. These involved three-dimensional simulations of the impact and its aftermath using Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH), in which the matter in the system is divided into discrete particles whose motions and internal energies are determined as a result of the imposed initial conditions. Densities and pressures are determined from the combined overlaps of the particles, which have a bell-shaped density distribution characterized by a smoothing length. In the original series of runs all particle masses and smoothing lengths had the same values; the matter in the colliding bodies consisted of initial iron cores and rock (dunite) mantles. Each of 41 runs used 3,008 particles, took several weeks of continuous computation, and gave fairly good representations of the ultimate state of the post-collision body or bodies but at best crude and qualitative information about individual particles in orbit. During the last two years an improved SPH program was used in which the masses and smoothing lengths of the particles are variable, and the intent of the current series of computations is to investigate the behavior of the matter exterior to the main parts of the body or bodies subsequent to the collisions. These runs are taking times comparable to a year of continuous computation in each case; they use 10,000 particles with 5,000 particles in the target and 5,000 in the impactor, and the particles thus have variable masses and smoothing lengths (the latter are dynamically adjusted so that a particle typically overlaps a few tens of its neighbors). Since the matter in the impactor provides the majority of the mass left in orbit after the collision, and since the masses of the particles that originated in the impactor are smaller than those in the target, the mass resolution in the exterior parts of the problem is greatly improved and the exterior particles properly simulate atmospheres in hydrostatic equilibrium.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Cameron, A. G. W.
(Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Twenty-fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 1: A-F
Subject Category
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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