We employ granular hydrodynamics to investigate a paradigmatic problem of clustering of particles in a freely cooling dilute granular gas. We consider large-scale hydrodynamic motions where the viscosity and heat conduction can be neglected, and one arrives at the equations of ideal gas dynamics with an additional term describing bulk energy losses due to inelastic collisions. We employ Lagrangian coordinates and derive a broad family of exact nonstationary analytical solutions that depend only on one spatial coordinate. These solutions exhibit a new type of singularity, where the gas density blows up in a finite time when starting from smooth initial conditions. The density blowups signal formation of close-packed clusters of particles. As the density blow-up time tc is approached, the maximum density exhibits a power law ∼(tc-t)-2. The velocity gradient blows up as ∼-(tc-t)-1 while the velocity itself remains continuous and develops a cusp (rather than a shock discontinuity) at the singularity. The gas temperature vanishes at the singularity, and the singularity follows the isobaric scenario: the gas pressure remains finite and approximately uniform in space and constant in time close to the singularity. An additional exact solution shows that the density blowup, of the same type, may coexist with an "ordinary" shock, at which the hydrodynamic fields are discontinuous but finite. We confirm stability of the exact solutions with respect to small one-dimensional perturbations by solving the ideal hydrodynamic equations numerically. Furthermore, numerical solutions show that the local features of the density blowup hold universally, independently of details of the initial and boundary conditions.
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We are grateful to Lev S. Tsimring and Eli Waxman for useful discussions. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 107/05) and by the German-Israel Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (Grant No. I-795-166.10/2003).