Does Magnetic Levitation or Suspension Define the Masses of Forming Stars?

Frank H. Shu, Zhi‐Yun Li, Anthony Allen
2004 Astrophysical Journal  
We investigate whether magnetic tension can define the masses of forming stars by holding up the subcritical envelope of a molecular cloud that suffers gravitational collapse of its supercritical core. We perform an equilibrium analysis of the initial and final states assuming perfect field freezing, no rotation, isothermality, and a completely flattened configuration. The sheet geometry allows us to separate the magnetic tension into a levitation associated with the split monopole formed by
more » ... nopole formed by the trapped flux of the central star and a suspension associated with curved field lines that thread the static pseudodisk and envelope of material external to the star. We find solutions where the eigenvalue for the stellar mass is a fixed multiple of the initial core mass of the cloud. We verify the analytically derived result by an explicit numerical simulation of a closely related 3-D axisymmetric system. However, with field freezing, the implied surface magnetic fields much exceed measured values for young stars. If the pinch by the central split monopole were to be eliminated by magnetic reconnection, then magnetic suspension alone cannot keep the subcritical envelope (i.e., the entire model cloud) from falling onto the star. We argue that this answer has general validity, even if the initial state lacked any kind of symmetry, possessed rotation, and had a substantial level of turbulence. These findings strongly support a picture for the halt of infall that invokes dynamic levitation by YSO winds and jets, but the breakdown of ideal magnetohydrodynamics is required to allow the appearance in the problem of a rapidly rotating, centrifugally supported disk. We use these results to calculate the initial mass function and star formation efficiency for the distributed and clustered modes of star formation.
doi:10.1086/380602 fatcat:t76eozqucjgglafuqmukoobulq