Astronomy Seminar: Testing the Streaming Instability as the Mechanism for Planetesimal Formation

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Date/Time:Friday, 08 Nov 2019 from 4:10 pm to 5:10 pm
Location:38 Physics
Contact:Curt Struck
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Dr. Jacob Simon, ISU

How planetesimals form is one of the biggest unanswered questions in planet formation theory. There have been a number of mechanisms proposed, but the leading mechanism, a process known as the streaming instability, has only recently been put to the test by comparing with planetesimals in our Solar System.

In this talk, I will introduce the streaming instability as a solution to the planetesimal formation problem. I will then describe work that I (and my group) have done in the past few years to quantify the initial mass function of planetesimals. I will build on this with a new, updated analysis that has improved our understanding of the mass function and is now allowing for a more detailed comparison with properties of asteroids and KBOs. I will also discuss a separate test of the streaming instability paradigm that has garnered significant support for it as the solution to the planetesimal formation problem. Finally, I will wrap up with new project directions and a brief discussion of future work.