Star-disc encounters in young star clusters

environmental effects on the evolution of protoplanetary discs


According to current knowledge, star formation occurs preferentially in clustered environments. As a byproduct of the star formation process young stars are found to be surrounded by accretion discs that are potential birth places of planets and planetary systems. Located in the hosting cluster, these protoplanetary discs are potentially subject to stellar interactions. These interactions give rise to a fundamental question of clustered star formation: How far does the cluster environment affect the evolution of protoplanetary discs and the formation of planets? The question is addressed in the present investigation in terms of the effect of stellar encounters on stars and their disc in young clusters by combining numerical simulations of isolated star-disc encounters and stellar dynamics of young star clusters. The investigation is composed of three key aspects. First, simulations of a dynamical model of the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC) show that disc destruction is dominated by encounters with high-mass stars that act as gravitational foci for the lower mass stars in the cluster centre. The massive stars are thus subject to repeated encounters which can lead to a total disc destruction ...
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