Magnetic fields during the early stages of massive star formation - II. A generalized outflow criterion Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Numerical simulations of outflows formed during the collapse of 100 M_sun cloud cores are presented. We derive a generalised criterion from MHD wind theory to analyse the launching mechanism of these outflows. The criterion is successfully applied to the whole outflow structure and cases with sub-Keplerian disc rotation. It allows us to decide whether an outflow is driven centrifugally or by the toroidal magnetic pressure. We show that quantities such as the magnetic field line inclination or the ratio of the toroidal to poloidal magnetic field alone are insufficient to determine the driving mechanism of outflows. By performing 12 runs we are able to study the influence of the initial conditions on the properties of outflows around massive protostars in detail. Our simulations reveal a strong effect of the magnetic field strength on the outflow morphology. In runs with weak fields or high rotational energies, well collimated, fast jets are observed whereas for strong fields poorly collimated, low-velocity outflows are found. We show that the occurrence of a fast jet is coupled to the existence of a Keplerian protostellar disc. Despite the very different morphologies all outflows are launched from the discs by centrifugal acceleration with the toroidal magnetic field increasingly contributing to the gas acceleration further away from the discs. The poor collimation of the outflows in runs with strong fields is a consequence of the weak hoop stresses. This in turn is caused by the slow build-up of a toroidal field due to sub-Keplerian disc rotation. The mass ejection/accretion ratios scatter around a mean of 0.3 in accordance with observational and analytical results. We suggest an evolutionary scenario for the earliest stage of massive star formation in which initially poorly collimated outflows develop which progressively get better collimated due to the generation of fast jets.

publication date

  • May 1, 2012