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The effects of protostellar jets on the IMF

Presentation #112.05 in the session “Origin of Cores and IMF”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
The effects of protostellar jets on the IMF

Observations have found the initial mass function (IMF) of stars to be near-universal in the Milky Way and inferred variations between galaxies, but it is unclear what physical mechanism is responsible for setting it. We present the first runs of STARFORGE, a suite of simulations following the formation of individual stars in giant molecular clouds (GMCs) using the GIZMO code. Our suite include runs with increasingly complex physics, starting with isothermal ideal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) and then adding non-isothermal thermodynamics and protostellar outflows. We show that without protostellar outflows the resulting stellar masses are an order of magnitude too high, similar to the result in the base isothermal MHD run. Outflows disrupt the accretion flow around the protostar, allowing gas to fragment and additional stars to form, thereby lowering the mean stellar mass to a value similar to that observed. The effect of jets upon global cloud evolution is most pronounced for lower-mass GMCs and dense clumps, so while jets can disrupt low-mass clouds, they are unable to regulate star formation in massive GMCs, as they would turn an order unity fraction of the mass into stars before unbinding the cloud. Although we find that the mass scale set by jets is insensitive to most cloud parameters (i.e., surface density, virial parameter), it is strongly dependent on the momentum loading of the jets (which is poorly constrained by observations) as well the the temperature of the parent cloud, which predicts slightly larger IMF variations than observed. We conclude that protostellar jets play a vital role in setting the mass scale of stars, but additional physics are necessary to reproduce the observed IMF.


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