The origin and evolution of stony meteorites
The origin of stony meteorites landing on Earth today is directly linked to the history of the main belt, which evolved both through collisional evolution and dynamical evolution/depletion. In this paper, we focus our attention on the main belt dynamical evolution scenario discussed in Petit et al. (2001). According to Petit et al., during the planet formation epoch, the primordial main belt contained several Earth masses of material, enough to allow the asteroids to accrete on relatively short timescales.
After a few My, the accretion of planetary embryos in the main belt zone dynamically stirred the remaining planetesimals to high enough velocities to initiate fragmentation. After a short interval, perhaps as long as 10 My, the primordial main belt was dynamically depleted of $>99$% of its material via the combined perturbations of the planetary embryos and a newly-formed Jupiter. The small percentage of objects that survived in the main belt zone became the asteroid belt. It has been shown that the wavy-shaped size-frequency distribution of the main belt is a “fossil” left over from this violent period (Bottke et al. 2004).
Using a collisional/dynamical model of this scenario, we tracked the evolution of stony meteoroids produced by catastrophic disruption events over the last several Gy. We show that most stony meteoroids are a byproduct of a collisional cascade derived from large and ancient asteroid families or smaller, more recent breakup events. The meteoroids are then delivered to Earth by drifting in semimajor axis via Yarkovsky thermal drag forces until they reach a resonance powerful enough to place them on an Earth-crossing orbit.
Key Words: Minor planets; asteroids; collisional physics; impact processes; origin; solar system.
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