High-temperature processing of solids through solar nebular bow shocks: 3d radiation hydrodynamics simulations with particles

A. C. Boley, M. A. Morris, Steven Desch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


A fundamental, unsolved problem in solar system formation is explaining the melting and crystallization of chondrules found in chondritic meteorites. Theoretical models of chondrule melting in nebular shocks have been shown to be consistent with many aspects of thermal histories inferred for chondrules from laboratory experiments; but, the mechanism driving these shocks is unknown. Planetesimals and planetary embryos on eccentric orbits can produce bow shocks as they move supersonically through the disk gas, and are one possible source of chondrule-melting shocks. We investigate chondrule formation in bow shocks around planetoids through three-dimensional radiation hydrodynamics simulations. A new radiation transport algorithm that combines elements of flux-limited diffusion and Monte Carlo methods is used to capture the complexity of radiative transport around bow shocks. An equation of state that includes the rotational, vibrational, and dissociation modes of H2 is also used. Solids are followed directly in the simulations and their thermal histories are recorded. Adiabatic expansion creates rapid cooling of the gas, and tail shocks behind the embryo can cause secondary heating events. Radiative transport is efficient, and bow shocks around planetoids can have luminosities ∼few× 10 -8 LȮ. While barred and radial chondrule textures could be produced in the radiative shocks explored here, porphyritic chondrules may only be possible in the adiabatic limit. We present a series of predicted cooling curves that merit investigation in laboratory experiments to determine whether the solids produced by bow shocks are represented in the meteoritic record by chondrules or other solids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2013


  • meteorites, meteors, meteoroids
  • planets and satellites: formation
  • protoplanetary disks
  • shock waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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