• methods: laboratory;
  • planets and satellites: formation;
  • protoplanetary discs


Recently Saito & Sirono proposed that large ice aggregates which drift inwards in protoplanetary discs breakup during sublimation, ejecting embedded silicate particles. This would lead to a concentration of small solid particles close to the snowline. In view of this model, we carried out laboratory experiments where we observed freely levitating ice aggregates sublimating. We find that frequent breakup is indeed very common. Scaled to a 10 cm aggregate, about 2 × 104 small silicate aggregates might result. This supports the idea that sublimation of drifting ice aggregates might locally increase the density of small dust (silicate) particles which might more easily be swept up by larger dust aggregates or trigger gravitational instability. Either way, this might locally boost the formation of planetesimals at the snowline.