Context. There is growing evidence that massive stars grow by disk accretion in a similar way to their low-mass counterparts. Early in evolution, these disks can achieve masses that are comparable to the current stellar mass, and therefore the forming disks are highly susceptible to gravitational fragmentation.
Aims: We investigate the formation and early evolution of an accretion disk around a forming massive protostar, focussing on its fragmentation physics. To this end, we follow the collapse of a molecular cloud of gas and dust, the formation of a massive protostar, the formation of its circumstellar disk, and the formation and evolution of the disk fragments.
Methods: We used a grid-based, self-gravity radiation hydrodynamics code including a sub-grid module for stellar evolution and dust evolution. We purposely do not use a sub-grid module for fragmentation such as sink particles to allow for all paths of fragment formation and destruction, but instead we keep the spatial grid resolution high enough to properly resolve the physical length scales of the problem, namely the pressure scale height and Jeans length of the disk. Simulations are performed on a grid in spherical coordinates with a logarithmic spacing of the grid cells in the radial direction and a cosine distribution of the grid cells in the polar direction, focusing the spatial resolution on the disk midplane. As a consequence, roughly 25% of the total number of grid cells, corresponding to ~26 million grid cells, are used to model the disk physics. These constitute the highest resolution simulations performed up to now on disk fragmentation around a forming massive star with the physics considered here. For a better understanding of the effects of spatial resolution and to compare our high-resolution results with previous lower resolution studies in the literature, we perform the same simulation at five different resolutions, each run differing in resolution from its predecessor by a factor of two.
Results: The cloud collapses and a massive (proto)star is formed in its center surrounded by a fragmenting Keplerian-like accretion disk with spiral arms. The fragments have masses of ~1 M⊙, and their continuous interactions with the disk, spiral arms, and other fragments result in eccentric orbits. Fragments form hydrostatic cores surrounded by secondary disks with spiral arms that also produce new fragments. We identified several mechanisms of fragment formation, interaction, and destruction. Central temperatures of the fragments can reach the hydrogen dissociation limit, form second Larson cores, and evolve into companion stars. Based on this, we study the multiplicity predicted by the simulations and find approximately six companions at different distances from the primary: from possible spectroscopic multiples, to companions at distances between 1000 and 2000 au.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- December 2020
- stars: formation;
- stars: massive;
- accretion disks;
- stars: protostars;
- methods: numerical;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- Accepted for publication in Astronomy &