Heating of asteroids in the early solar system has been mainly attributed to two mechanisms: the decay of short-lived radionuclides and the unipolar induction mechanism originally proposed in a classic series of papers by Sonett and collaborators. As originally conceived, unipolar induction heating is the result of the dissipation of current inside the body driven by a “motional electric field”, which appears in the asteroid’s reference frame when it is immersed in a fully-ionized, magnetized T-Tauri solar wind. However we point out a subtle conceptual error in the way that the electric field is calculated. Strictly speaking, the motional electric field used by Sonett et al. is the electric field in the free-streaming plasma far from the asteroid. For realistic assumptions about the plasma density in protoplanetary disks, the interaction between the plasma and asteroid cause the formation of a shear layer, in which the motional electric field decreases and even vanishes at the asteroid surface. We reexamine and improve the induction heating mechanism by: (1) correcting this conceptual error by using non-ideal multifluid MHD to self consistently calculate the velocity, magnetic, and electric fields in and around the shear layer; and (2) considering more realistic environments and scenarios that are consistent with current theories about protoplanetary disks. We present solutions for two highly idealized flows, which demonstrate that the electric field inside the asteroid is actually produced by magnetic field gradients in the shear layer, and can either vanish or be comparable to the fields predicted by Sonett et al. depending on the flow geometry. We term this new mechanism “electrodynamic heating”, calculate its possible upper limits, and compare them to heating generated by the decay of short-lived radionuclides.
AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #45
- Pub Date:
- October 2013