Explaining the luminosity spread in young clusters: proto and pre-main sequence stellar evolution in a molecular cloud environment.
Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams of star forming regions show a large luminosity spread. This is incompatible with well-defined isochrones based on classic non-accreting protostellar evo- lution models. Protostars do not evolve in isolation of their environment, but grow through accretion of gas. In addition, while an age can be defined for a star forming region, the ages of individual stars in the region will vary. We show how the combined effect of a protostellar age spread, a consequence of sustained star formation in the molecular cloud, and time-varying protostellar accretion for individual protostars can explain the observed luminosity spread. We use a global MHD simulation including a sub-scale sink particle model of a star forming region to follow the accretion process of each star. The accretion profiles are used to compute stellar evolution models for each star, incorporating a model of how the accretion energy is distributed to the disk, radiated away at the accretion shock, or incorporated into the outer layers of the protostar. Using a modelled cluster age of 5 Myr we naturally reproduce the lumi- nosity spread and find good agreement with observations of the Collinder 69 cluster, and the Orion Nebular Cluster. It is shown how stars in binary and multiple systems can be externally forced creating recurrent episodic accretion events. We find that in a realistic global molecular cloud model massive stars build up mass over relatively long time-scales. This leads to an important conceptual change compared to the classic picture of non-accreting stellar evolution segmented in to low-mass Hayashi tracks and high-mass Henyey tracks.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1710.00823