Magnetic fields during the early stages of massive star formation - I. Accretion and disc evolution Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We present simulations of collapsing 100 M_\sun mass cores in the context of massive star formation. The effect of variable initial rotational and magnetic energies on the formation of massive stars is studied in detail. We focus on accretion rates and on the question under which conditions massive Keplerian disks can form in the very early evolutionary stage of massive protostars. For this purpose, we perform 12 simulations with different initial conditions extending over a wide range in parameter space. The equations of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) are solved under the assumption of ideal MHD. We find that the formation of Keplerian disks in the very early stages is suppressed for a mass-to-flux ratio normalised to the critical value \mu below 10, in agreement with a series of low-mass star formation simulations. This is caused by very efficient magnetic braking resulting in a nearly instantaneous removal of angular momentum from the disk. For weak magnetic fields, corresponding to \mu > 10, large-scale, centrifugally supported disks build up with radii exceeding 100 AU. A stability analysis reveals that the disks are supported against gravitationally induced perturbations by the magnetic field and tend to form single stars rather than multiple objects. We find protostellar accretion rates of the order of a few 10^-4 M_\sun yr^-1 which, considering the large range covered by the initial conditions, vary only by a factor of ~ 3 between the different simulations. We attribute this fact to two competing effects of magnetic fields. On the one hand, magnetic braking enhances accretion by removing angular momentum from the disk thus lowering the centrifugal support against gravity. On the other hand, the combined effect of magnetic pressure and magnetic tension counteracts gravity by exerting an outward directed force on the gas in the disk thus reducing the accretion onto the protostars.

publication date

  • October 21, 2011