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Binary star formation: gravitational fragmentation followed by capture

Turner, J. A., Chapman, S. J., Bhattal, A. S., Disney, Michael, Pongracic, H. and Whitworth, Anthony Peter 1995. Binary star formation: gravitational fragmentation followed by capture. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 277 (2) , pp. 705-726. 10.1093/mnras/277.2.705

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We describe in detail one of a sequence of numerical simulations which realize the mechanism of binary star formation proposed by Pringle. In these simulations, collisions between stable molecular cloud clumps produce dense shocked layers, which cool radiatively and fragment gravitationally. The resulting fragments then condense to form protostellar discs, which at the same time fall together and, as a result of tidal and viscous interactions, capture one another to form binary systems. We refer to this mechanism as shock-induced gravitational fragmentation followed by capture, or SGF+C. When the initial clumps are sufficiently massive and/or the Mach number of the collision is sufficiently high, a large number (>~10) of protostellar discs is produced; under these circumstances, the layer fragments first into filaments, and then into beads along the filaments. The marriage of two protostellar discs in this way is `arranged' in the sense that the protostellar discs involved do not form independently. First, they both condense out of the same layer, and probably also out of the same filament within this layer; this significantly increases the likelihood of them interacting dynamically. Secondly, there tends to be alignment between the orbital and spin angular momenta of the interacting protostellar discs, reflecting the fact that these angular momenta derive mainly from the systematic global angular momentum of the off-axis collision which produced the layer; this alignment of the various angular momenta pre-disposes the discs to very dissipative interactions, thereby increasing the probability of producing a strongly bound, long-lasting union. It is a marriage because the binary orbit stabilizes itself rather quickly. Any subsequent orbit evolution, as the protostellar discs `mop up' the surrounding residual gas and interact tidally, tends to harden the orbit. Therefore, as long as a third body does not intervene, the union is binding. Even if a third body does intervene, provided the binary components are well matched (i.e. of comparable mass) and the third body is not too massive, such interventions will - more often than not - harden the orbit further. In two appendices we describe the code used in the simulations presented in this and the companion paper, and the tests performed to demonstrate the code's ability to handle the physical processes involved.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Uncontrolled Keywords: accretion, accretion discs, shock waves, methods: numerical, binaries: general, stars: formation, ism: clouds
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0035-8711
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Last Modified: 20 Jan 2019 23:05

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