Artificial tektites: an experimental technique for capturing the shapes of spinning drops

Baldwin, Kyle A., Butler, Samuel L. and Hill, Richard J.A. (2015) Artificial tektites: an experimental technique for capturing the shapes of spinning drops. Scientific Reports, 5 . 7660/1-7660/5. ISSN 2045-2322

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Determining the shapes of a rotating liquid droplet bound by surface tension is an archetypal problem in the study of the equilibrium shapes of a spinning and charged droplet, a problem that unites models of the stability of the atomic nucleus with the shapes of astronomical-scale, gravitationally-bound masses. The shapes of highly deformed droplets and their stability must be calculated numerically. Although the accuracy of such models has increased with the use of progressively more sophisticated computational techniques and increases in computing power, direct experimental verification is still lacking. Here we present an experimental technique for making wax models of these shapes using diamagnetic levitation. The wax models resemble splash-form tektites, glassy stones formed from molten rock ejected from asteroid impacts. Many tektites have elongated or ‘dumb-bell’ shapes due to their rotation mid-flight before solidification, just as we observe here. Measurements of the dimensions of our wax ‘artificial tektites’ show good agreement with equilibrium shapes calculated by our numerical model, and with previous models. These wax models provide the first direct experimental validation for numerical models of the equilibrium shapes of spinning droplets, of importance to fundamental physics and also to studies of tektite formation.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Hill, Richard
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2017 13:40
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 17:01

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