Competitive accretion and the formation of massive stars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Competitive accretion in a stellar cluster is a probable mechanism to explain the formation of high mass stars and their properties in the context of low mass star formation. The fragmentation of a turbulent cloud produces the individual stars with masses of the order the Jeans mass or mean stellar mass in the cluster. Once individual stars fall together to form a small-N cluster, their mutual potential funnels gas down to the center. The higher gas densities in the cluster centers, and the fact that this gas is continually replenished, result in much higher accretion rates for the few stars located there. These stars become massive stars primarily due to their location in the center of a cluster. This process requires a distributed gas reservoir with initially low velocity dispersion as expected in a turbulent medium. Competitive accretion can explain the distribution of stellar masses, the mass segregation of young stellar clusters, and the high binary frequency and properties of massive stars. Finally, competitive accretion predicts a direct relationship between the total stellar mass of a cluster and the most massive star therein.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPathways through an eclectic universe
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of a conference held at Santiago del Teide, Tenerife, Spain, 23-27 April 2007 to celebrate John Beckman's 40 years in astrophysics
EditorsJH Knapen, TJ Mahoney, A Vazdekis
Place of PublicationSan Francisco
PublisherAstronomical Society of the Pacific
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-1-58381-650-9
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventConference on Pathways Through and Eclectic Universe - Santiago del Teide
Duration: 23 Apr 200727 Apr 2007


ConferenceConference on Pathways Through and Eclectic Universe
CitySantiago del Teide


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