Protostar formation in magnetic molecular clouds beyond ion detachment. III. A parameter study

Konstantinos Tassis, Telemachos Ch Mouschovias

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In two previous papers we formulated and solved, for a fiducial set of free parameters, the problem of the formation and evolution of a magnetically supercritical core inside a magnetically subcritical parent cloud. The evolution was followed into the opaque phase that resulted in the formation of a hydrostatic protostellar core. In this paper we present a parameter study to assess the sensitivity of the results (1) to the density at which the equation of state becomes adiabatic; (2) to the initial mass-to-flux ratio of the parent cloud; and (3) to ionization by radioactive decay of different nuclei ( 40K and 26A1) at high densities (nn ≳ 1012 cm-3). We find that (1) the results depend only slightly on the density at which the onset of adiabaticity occurs; (2) memory of the initial mass-to-flux ratio is completely lost at late times; and (3) the precise source of radioactive ionization alters the degree of attachment of the electrons to the field lines (at high densities), and the relative importance of ambipolar diffusion and Ohmic dissipation in reducing the magnetic flux of the protostar. The value of the magnetic field at the end of the runs is insensitive to the values of the free parameters and in excellent agreement with meteoritic measurements of the protosolar nebula magnetic field. The magnetic flux problem of star formation is resolved for at least strongly magnetic newborn stars. A complete detachment of the magnetic field from the matter is unlikely. The formation of a "magnetic wall" (with an associated magnetic shock) is independent of the assumed equation of state, although the process is enhanced and accelerated by the formation of a central hydrostatic core.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-417
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - May 1 2007


  • Dust, extinction
  • ISM: clouds
  • MHD
  • Magnetic fields
  • Shock waves stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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