Volume 577, May 2015
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||13 May 2015|
Strong effect of the cluster environment on the size of protoplanetary discs?
Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
Received: 19 December 2014
Accepted: 10 April 2015
Context. Most stars are born in clusters, thus the protoplanetary discs surrounding the newly formed stars might be influenced by this environment. Isolated star-disc encounters have previously been studied, and it was shown that very close encounters are necessary to completely destroy discs. However, relatively distant encounters are still able to change the disc size considerably.
Aims. We quantify the importance of disc-size reduction that is due to stellar encounters in an entire stellar population.
Methods. We modelled young, massive clusters of different densities using the code Nbody6 to determine the statistics of stellar encounter parameters. In a second step, we used these parameters to investigate the effect of the environments on the disc size. For this purpose, we performed a numerical experiment with an artificial initial disc size of 105 AU.
Results. We quantify to which degree the disc size is more sensitive to the cluster environment than to the disc mass or frequency. We show that in all investigated clusters a large portion of discs is significantly reduced in size. After 5 Myr, the fraction of discs smaller than 1000 AU in ONC-like clusters with an average number density of ̅ρcluster ~ 60pc-3, the fraction of discs smaller than 1000 AU is 65%, while discs smaller than 100 AU make up 15%. These fractions increase to 84% and 39% for discs in denser clusters like IC 348 (̅ρcluster ~ 500pc-3). Even in clusters with a density four times lower than in the ONC (̅ρcluster ~ 15pc-3), about 43% of all discs are reduced to sizes below 1000 AU and roughly 9% to sizes below 100 AU.
Conclusions. For any disc in the ONC that initially was larger than 1000 AU, the probability to be truncated to smaller disc sizes as a result of stellar encounters is quite high. Thus, among other effects, encounters are important in shaping discs and potentially forming planetary systems in stellar clusters.
Key words: protoplanetary disks / planets and satellites: formation / galaxies: star clusters: general
© ESO, 2015
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