Recurrent planet formation and intermittent protostellar outflows induced by episodic mass accretion

Masahiro N. MacHida, Shu Ichiro Inutsuka, Tomoaki Matsumoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)


The formation and evolution of a circumstellar disk in magnetized cloud cores are investigated from a prestellar core stage until ∼104 yr after protostar formation. In the circumstellar disk, fragmentation first occurs due to gravitational instability in a magnetically inactive region, and substellar-mass objects appear. The substellar-mass objects lose their orbital angular momenta by gravitational interaction with the massive circumstellar disk and finally fall onto the protostar. After this fall, the circumstellar disk increases its mass by mass accretion and again induces fragmentation. The formation and falling of substellar-mass objects are repeated in the circumstellar disk until the end of the main accretion phase. In this process, the mass of the fragments remains small, because the circumstellar disk loses its mass by fragmentation and subsequent falling of fragments before it becomes very massive. In addition, when fragments orbit near the protostar, they disturb the inner disk region and promote mass accretion onto the protostar. The orbital motion of substellar-mass objects clearly synchronizes with the time variation of the accretion luminosity of the protostar. Moreover, as the objects fall, the protostar shows a strong brightening for a short duration. The intermittent protostellar outflows are also driven by the circumstellar disk whose magnetic field lines are highly tangled owing to the orbital motion of fragments. The time-variable protostellar luminosity and intermittent outflows may be a clue for detecting planetary-mass objects in the circumstellar disk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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