AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 185 UV to IR Observations of Protostars
Poster, Thursday, 9:20am-4:00pm, January 12, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[185.14] Spiral Structure and Fragmentation in Protostellar Disks

E. I. Vorobyov, S. Basu (UWO)

The susceptibility of protostellar disks to gravitational instability and subsequent formation of protoplanetary clumps is currently under debate. We perform numerical simulations of gravitational cloud core collapse until approximately 99% of the initial cloud core mass is accreted by the central protostar and protostellar disk system. We find that the protostellar disk is gravitationally unstable, even in the later phase of negligible mass infall from the surrounding envelope, and quickly develops a flocculent spiral structure. The spiral structure is sharp in the early phase of disk evolution and is diffuse in the later phase. In the early phase, when the mass infall from the envelope is sufficiently high, dense protoplanetary clumps form within the spiral arms. Some of the clumps get dispersed over the course of several orbital periods and the others are driven onto the protostar. These episodes of clump infall can increase the luminosity of the protostar by a factor of up to ~1000.

This work was supported by a grant from NSERC. EIV acknowledges support from a CITA National Fellowship.

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