Chondrule-forming Shock Fronts in the Solar Nebula: A Possible Unified Scenario for Planet and Chondrite Formation
Chondrules are millimeter-sized spherules found throughout primitive chondritic meteorites. Flash heating by a shock front is the leading explanation of their formation. However, identifying a mechanism for creating shock fronts inside the solar nebula has been difficult. In a gaseous disk capable of forming Jupiter, the disk must have been marginally gravitationally unstable at and beyond Jupiter's orbit. We show that this instability can drive inward spiral shock fronts with shock speeds of up to ~10 km s-1 at asteroidal orbits, sufficient to account for chondrule formation. The mixing and transport of solids in such a disk, combined with the planet-forming tendencies of gravitational instabilities, results in a unified scenario linking chondrite production with gas giant planet formation.