The formation of planetesimals in the early Solar System is hardly understood, and in particular the growth of dust aggregates above millimeter sizes has recently turned out to be a difficult task in our understanding (Zsom, A., Ormel, C.W., Güttler, C., Blum, J., Dullemond, C.P. . Astron. Astrophys., 513, A57). Laboratory experiments have shown that dust aggregates of these sizes stick to one another only at unreasonably low velocities. However, in the protoplanetary disk, millimeter-sized particles are known to have been ubiquitous. One can find relics of them in the form of solid chondrules as the main constituent of chondrites. Most of these chondrules were found to feature a fine-grained rim, which is hypothesized to have formed from accreting dust grains in the solar nebula. To study the influence of these dust-coated chondrules on the formation of chondrites and possibly planetesimals, we conducted collision experiments between millimeter-sized, dust-coated chondrule analogs at velocities of a few cms-1. For 2 and 3mm diameter chondrule analogs covered by dusty rims of a volume filling factor of 0.18 and 0.35-0.58, we found sticking velocities of a few cms-1. This velocity is higher than the sticking velocity of dust aggregates of the same size. We therefore conclude that chondrules may be an important step towards a deeper understanding of the collisional growth of larger bodies. Moreover, we analyzed the collision behavior in an ensemble of dust aggregates and non-coated chondrule analogs. While neither the dust aggregates nor the solid chondrule analogs show sticking in collisions among their species, we found an enhanced sicking efficiency in collisions between the two constituents, which leads us to the conjecture that chondrules might act as " catalyzers" for the growth of larger bodies in the young Solar System. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
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