Observed luminosity spread in young clusters and Fu Ori stars: a unified picture
Vorobyov, Eduard I.
American Astronomical Society
The idea that non-steady accretion during the embedded phase of protostar evolution can produce the observed luminosity spread in the Herzsprung–Russell diagram (HRD) of young clusters has recently been called into question. Observations of FU Ori, for instance, suggest an expansion of the star during strong accretion events, whereas the luminosity spread implies a contraction of the accreting objects, decreasing their radiating surface. In this paper, we present a global scenario based on calculations coupling episodic accretion histories derived from numerical simulations of collapsing cloud prestellar cores of various masses and subsequent protostar evolution. Our calculations show that, assuming an initial protostar mass Mi ∼ 1MJup, typical of the second Larson’s core, both the luminosity spread in the HRD and the inferred properties of FU Ori events (mass, radius, accretion rate) can be explained by this scenario, providing two conditions. First, there must be some variation within the fraction of accretion energy absorbed by the protostar during the accretion process. Second, the range of this variation should increase with increasing accretion burst intensity and thus with the initial core mass and final star mass. The numerical hydrodynamics simulations of collapsing cloud prestellar cores indeed show that the intensity of the accretion bursts correlates with the mass and initial angular momentum of the prestellar core. Massive prestellar cores with high initial angular momentum are found to produce intense bursts characteristic of FU Ori-like events. Our results thus suggest a link between the burst intensities and the fraction of accretion energy absorbed by the protostar, with some threshold in the accretion rate, of the order of 10−5M yr−1, delimitating the transition from “cold” to “hot” accretion. Such a transition might reflect a change in the accretion geometry with increasing accretion rate, i.e., a transition from magnetospheric or thin-disk to thick-disk accretion, or in the magnetospheric interaction between the star and the disk. Conversely, the luminosity spread can also be explained by a variation of the initial protostar mass within the ∼1–5MJup range, although it is unclear for now whether such a spread among the second Larson’s core can be produced during the prestellar core second collapse. This unified picture confirms the idea that early accretion during protostar and proto-brown dwarf formation/evolution can explain the observed luminosity spread in young clusters without invoking any significant age spread, and that the concept of a well-defined birthline does not apply for low-mass objects.
European Community's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013
Lise Meitner Fellowship
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Vol. 756 (2), article 118