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EU 5: Physics and chemistry of small primitive bodies

Objectives of this unit

This unit provides basic knowledge on the physical and chemical properties of small bodies of the Solar System: meteorites, interplanetary solid particles, asteroids and comets. The aim is to show how the study of these primordial bodies can provide essential constraints on solar system formation. Emphasis is given to the nature and understanding of the physical processes of formation and evolution: collisions, accretion, irradiation, sublimation (or phase change), photo-dissociation, photo-ionisation… This unit will also describe the interrelations between the different populations of small bodies and their contribution and interaction with the planets. N.B. The dynamical aspects of small bodies, which are complementary to the physical and chemical properties in order to constrain the formation scenario, are presented in the unit “Formation and evolution of planetary systems”

Physics and Chemistry of asteroids

  • Definitions, characteristics, origin, location and observing conditions.
  • Size, mass, density and spin. Moment of inertia
  • Non gravitational evolution: thermal effects on spins and orbits.
  • Composition. Mineralogy. Taxonomy. Links with meteorites.
  • Geology from in-situ measurements (Eros, Gaspra…)
  • Modelling of collisions, collisional evolution, asteroid families and satellites

Physics and Chemistry of comets

  • Definitions, characteristics, origin, location and observing conditions.
  • Non gravitational forces, fragmentation, tidal effects. Energy balance on the surface and modelling of fragmentations
  • Spatial distribution of parent molecules, elemental abundances, isotopic ratio (D/H in water 12C/13C…), interrelations cometary nuclei-asteroids
  • Dust’s clouds: sampling and analysis, asteroidal, cometary and interstellar sources. Poynting-Robertson effect, evaporation and evolution. Modelling of the light scattering by solid particles and their agglomeration. Structure, constraints for observations outside solar system

The trans-Neptunian objects

  • Definitions, characteristics, origin, location and observing conditions
  • Origin and evolution of the population. Problem of the missing mass. Composition, spectroscopy of ices, thermal model.
  • Processes of ice’s irradiation (cosmic rays, UV…), surface’s alteration.
  • Comparison with related populations: comets, centaurs, irregular satellites.
  • Pluto and Charon

Person to contact :

Alain Doressoundiram, Observatoire de Paris, LESIA - UMR CNRS 8109, 5, place Jules Janssen, F-92195 Meudon CEDEX Tel: (33) 1 45 07 77 19 - E-mail : alain.doressoundiram[@robas]obspm.fr

Université Paris-Saclay Sorbonne Université Université Paris-Sud Université Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines Observatoire de Paris Université Denis Diderot Paris Université Paris-Est Créteil Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
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