Tuesday, January 29, 2013

1301.6545 (Zhi-Yun Li et al.)

Does Magnetic Field-Rotation Misalignment Solve the Magnetic Braking Catastrophe in Protostellar Disk Formation?    [PDF]

Zhi-Yun Li, Ruben Krasnopolsky, Hsien Shang
Stars form in dense cores of molecular clouds that are observed to be significantly magnetized. In the simplest case of a laminar (non-turbulent) core with the magnetic field aligned with the rotation axis, both analytic considerations and numerical simulations have shown that the formation of a large, $10^2\au$-scale, rotationally supported protostellar disk is suppressed by magnetic braking in the ideal MHD limit for a realistic level of core magnetization. This theoretical difficulty in forming protostellar disks is termed "magnetic braking catastrophe". A possible resolution to this problem, proposed by \citeauthor{HennebelleCiardi2009} and \citeauthor{Joos+2012}, is that misalignment between the magnetic field and rotation axis may weaken the magnetic braking enough to enable disk formation. We evaluate this possibility quantitatively through numerical simulations. We confirm the basic result of \citeauthor{Joos+2012} that the misalignment is indeed conducive to disk formation. In relatively weakly magnetized cores with dimensionless mass-to-flux ratio $\gtrsim 5$, it enabled the formation of rotationally supported disks that would otherwise be suppressed if the magnetic field and rotation axis are aligned. For more strongly magnetized cores, disk formation remains suppressed, however, even for the maximum tilt angle of $90\degree$. If dense cores are as strongly magnetized as indicated by OH Zeeman observations (with a mean dimensionless mass-to-flux ratio $\sim 2$), it would be difficult for the misalignment alone to enable disk formation in the majority of them. We conclude that, while beneficial to disk formation, especially for the relatively weak field case, the misalignment does not completely solve the problem of catastrophic magnetic braking in general.
View original: http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.6545

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