Data from Hubble and ALMA telescopes suggest that formation of planets from the cloud of gas and dust orbiting a new protostar is an efficient process occurring on a time scale of less than 10 million years. Initially uncharged grains in space and laboratory plasma environments become charged due to collection of ions and electrons from the plasma or emission of electrons as high-energy particles are absorbed. Certain macroscopic effects such as coagulation of smaller grains into larger fluffy aggregates are then affected by the grain charge. The charge distribution on the aggregate structure itself appears to play a role in determining the coagulation rate for the dust population. As particles collide, a numerical code can be used to determine the effect of the charge distributions on the ‘fluffiness’ of the dust aggregates, the coagulation rates of the particles, and the evolution of the dust population.
Faculty & Staff: Augusto Carballido, Lorin Matthews, Truell Hyde