Dispersal of gaseous circumstellar discs around high-mass stars

Yue Shen, Yu Qing Lou

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


We study the dispersal of a gaseous disc surrounding a central high-mass stellar core once this circumstellar disc becomes fully ionized. If the stellar and surrounding extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and X-ray radiation are so strong as to rapidly heat up and ionize the entire circumstellar disc as further facilitated by disc magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence, a shock can be driven to travel outward in the fully ionized disc, behind which the disc expands and thins. For an extremely massive and powerful stellar core, the ionized gas pressure overwhelms the centrifugal and gravitational forces in the disc. In this limit, we construct self-similar shock solutions for such an expansion and depletion phase. As a significant amount of circumstellar gas is removed, the relic disc becomes vulnerable to strong stellar winds and fragments into clumps. We speculate that disc disappearance happens rapidly, perhaps on a time-scale of ~103-104 yr, once the disc becomes entirely ionized sometime after the onset of thermal nuclear burning in a high-mass stellar core.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L85-L89
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Plasmas
  • Shock waves
  • Stars: early type
  • Stars: winds, outflows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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