3 years ago

The Effects of Magnetic Fields and Protostellar Feedback on Low-mass Cluster Formation.

Richard I. Klein, Andrew J. Cunningham, Christopher F. McKee, Mark R. Krumholz

We present a large suite of simulations of the formation of low-mass star clusters. Our simulations include an extensive set of physical processes -- magnetohydrodynamics, radiative transfer, and protostellar outflows -- and span a wide range of virial parameters and magnetic field strengths. Comparing the outcomes of our simulations to observations, we find that simulations remaining close to virial balance throughout their history produce star formation efficiencies and initial mass function (IMF) peaks that are stable in time and in reasonable agreement with observations. Our results indicate that small-scale dissipation effects near the protostellar surface provide a feedback loop for stabilizing the star formation efficiency. This is true regardless of whether the balance is maintained by input of energy from large scale forcing or by strong magnetic fields that inhibit collapse. In contrast, simulations that leave virial balance and undergo runaway collapse form stars too efficiently and produce an IMF that becomes increasingly top-heavy with time. In all cases we find that the competition between magnetic flux advection toward the protostar and outward advection due to magnetic interchange instabilities, and the competition between turbulent amplification and reconnection close to newly-formed protostars renders the local magnetic field structure insensitive to the strength of the large-scale field, ensuring that radiation is always more important than magnetic support in setting the fragmentation scale and thus the IMF peak mass. The statistics of multiple stellar systems are similarly insensitive to variations in the initial conditions and generally agree with observations within the range of statistical uncertainty.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1709.01277

DOI: arXiv:1709.01277v2

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