Giant Impacts

LIDT-DD (described in Kral et al. 2013 and in the collisional model section on this website) is able, for the first time, to treat collisions and dynamics in a self-consistent fashion and allows to follow the time evolution till steady-state of the many fragments that are produced during collisions. Kral et al. (2015, see the paper below) present the first astrophysical application of the code, which follows the evolution of violent collisions between sub-planetary mass bodies that are expected to happen in the late stages of planetary formation. This new generation model is able to tackle such an arduous problem for the first time, and leads to some interesting results such as providing the brightness of such violent phenomena, their timescale, their detectability, as well as being able to predict an infallible signature of such events. These giant impacts create a strong brightness asymmetry at the collision point that could be detected with SPHERE (for the closest systems) or with MIRI/JWST in the mid-IR (see Fig. 11 in the paper below). Confirmed detections of this signature would lead to actual observations of on-going planetary formation, which would be a major advance in our understanding of planetary formation. 

“That is where my dearest and brightest dreams have ranged — to hear for the duration of a heartbeat the universe and the totality of life in its mysterious, innate harmony.” Hermann Hesse