Grain destruction in interstellar shock waves

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48 Scopus citations


Interstellar shock waves can erode and destroy grains present in the shocked gas, primarily as the result of sputtering and grain-grain collisions. Uncertainties in current estimates of sputtering yields are reviewed. Results are presented for the simple case of sputtering of fast grains being stopped in cold gas. An upper limit is derived for sputtering of refractory grains in C-type MHD shocks: shock speeds vs≳ 50 km s-1 are required for return of more than 30% of the silicate to the gas phase. Sputtering can also be important for removing molecular ice mantles from grains in two-fluid MHD shock waves in molecular gas. Recent estimates of refractory grain lifetimes against destruction in shock waves are summarized, and the implications of these short lifetimes are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysics and Space Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Dust Destruction
  • Shock Waves
  • Sputtering


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