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Modelling Accretion in Protobinary Systems

Matthew R. Bate, Ian A. Bonnell and Nigel M. Price

Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 277, 362-376 (1995)


A method for following fragmentation simulations further in time using smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) is presented. In a normal SPH simulation of the collapse and fragmentation of a molecular cloud, high-density regions of gas that form protostars are represented by many particles with small separations. These high-density regions require small time steps, limiting the time for which the simulation can be followed. Thus, the end result of the fragmentation can never be definitively ascertained, and comparisons between cloud fragmentation calculations and the observed characteristics of stellar systems cannot be made.

In this paper, each high-density region is replaced by a single, non-gaseous particle, with appropriate boundary conditions, which contains all the mass in the region and accretes any infalling mass. This enables the evolution of the cloud and the resulting protostars to be followed for many orbits or until most of the original cloud mass has been accreted.

The Boss & Bodenheimer standard isothermal test case for the fragmentation of an interstellar cloud is used as an example for the technique. It is found that the binary protostellar system that forms initially does not merge, but instead forms a multiple system. The collapse is followed to 4 initial cloud free-fall times when approximately 80 per cent of the original mass of the cloud has been accreted by the protostars, or surrounds them in discs, and the remainder of the material has been expelled out to the radius of the initial cloud by the binary.

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