The statistical mechanics of reconnecting flux loops and consequences for massive star formation

C. A. Norman, F. C. Adams, S. Cowley, R. N. Sudan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present a simple model that describes the reconnection process for a collection of magnetic flux loops in an astrophysical system. We derive and solve the master kinetic equations for reconnecting flux loops in a plasma with β ≤ 1 (where β is the ratio of the gas pressure to the magnetic field pressure). The solution is a similarity solution for the distribution, N(Φ, M, t) , of flux loops as a function of magnetic flux Φ, mass M, and time t, and it is given by N(Φ, M, t) ∼ t-1Φ-2M-1, where the power-law indices are determined by the cross-sectional interaction and the physics of the flux loops. We discuss applications to star formation. In particular, we find that this reconnection process can lower the flux-to-mass ratio in portions of the system and can thereby provide sites for massive star formation. In addition, kinetic models such as those considered here may provide a means of calculating the distribution of clump masses (and fluxes) within molecular clouds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-728
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume469
Issue number2 PART I
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • ISM: clouds
  • MHD
  • Stars: formation

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