Massive star formation: nurture, not nature

Ian Alexander Bonnell, Stephen G Vine, Matthew R Bate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

259 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigate the physical processes that lead to the formation of massive stars. Using a numerical simulation of the formation of a stellar cluster from a turbulent molecular cloud, we evaluate the relevant contributions of fragmentation and competitive accretion in determining the masses of the more massive stars. We find no correlation between the final mass of a massive star, and the mass of the clump from which it forms. Instead, we find that the bulk of the mass of massive stars comes from subsequent competitive accretion in a clustered environment. In fact, the majority of this mass infalls on to a pre-existing stellar cluster. Furthermore, the mass of the most massive star in a system increases as the system grows in numbers of stars and in total mass. This arises as the infalling gas is accompanied by newly formed stars, resulting in a larger cluster around a more massive star. High-mass stars gain mass as they gain companions, implying a direct causal relationship between the cluster formation process and the formation of higher-mass stars therein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-741
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume349
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2004

Keywords

  • stars : formation
  • stars : luminosity function, mass function
  • globular clusters : general
  • open clusters and associations : general
  • SMOOTHED PARTICLE HYDRODYNAMICS
  • HERBIG AE/BE STARS
  • MOLECULAR CLOUDS
  • STELLAR CLUSTERS
  • INITIAL CONDITIONS
  • ACCRETION
  • TURBULENT
  • COLLAPSE
  • SEARCH
  • CORES

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