A numerical study of brown dwarf formation via encounters of protostellar discs
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The formation of brown dwarfs (BDs) due to the fragmentation of proto-stellar
disks undergoing pairwise encounters was investigated. High resolution allowed
the use of realistic initial disk models where both the vertical structure and
the local Jeans mass were resolved. The results show that objects with masses
ranging from giant planets to low mass stars can form during such encounters
from initially stable disks. The parameter space of initial spin-orbit
orientations and the azimuthal angles for each disk was explored. An upper
limit on the initial Toomre Q value of ~2 was found for fragmentation to occur.
Depending on the initial configuration, shocks, tidal-tail structures and mass
inflows were responsible for the condensation of disk gas. Retrograde disks
were generally more likely to fragment. When the interaction timescale was
significantly shorter than the disks' dynamical timescales, the proto-stellar
disks tended to be truncated without forming objects.
The newly-formed objects had masses ranging from 0.9 to 127 Jupiter masses,
with the majority in the BD regime. They often resided in star-BD multiples and
in some cases also formed hierarchical orbiting systems. Most of them had large
angular momenta and highly flattened, disk-like shapes. The objects had radii
ranging from 0.1 to 10 AU. The disk gas was assumed to be locally isothermal,
appropriate for the short cooling times in extended proto-stellar disks, but
not for condensed objects. An additional case with explicit cooling that
reduced to zero for optically thick gas was simulated to test the extremes of
cooling effectiveness and it was still possible to form objects in this case.
Detailed radiative transfer is expected to lengthen the internal evolution
timescale for these objects, but not to alter our basic results.
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