The impact of non-ideal magnetohydrodynamics on binary star formation

James Wurster, Daniel J. Price, Matthew R. Bate

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33 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the effect of non-ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) on the formation of binary stars using a suite of three-dimensional smoothed particle magnetohydrodynamics simulations of the gravitational collapse of 1 M☉, rotating, perturbed molecular-cloud cores. Alongside the role of Ohmic resistivity, ambipolar diffusion and the Hall effect, we also examine the effects of magnetic field strength, orientation and amplitude of the density perturbation. When modelling sub-critical cores, ideal MHD models do not collapse whereas non-ideal MHD models collapse to form single protostars. In supercritical ideal MHD models, increasing the magnetic field strength or decreasing the initial-density perturbation amplitude decreases the initial binary separation. Strong magnetic fields initially perpendicular to the rotation axis suppress the formation of binaries and yield discs with magnetic fields ∼10 times stronger than if the magnetic field was initially aligned with the rotation axis. When non-ideal MHD is included, the resulting discs are larger and more massive, and the binary forms on a wider orbit. Small differences in the supercritical cores caused by non-ideal MHD effects are amplified by the binary interaction near periastron. Overall, the non-ideal effects have only a small impact on binary formation and early evolution, with the initial conditions playing the dominant role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1788-1804
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Binaries: general
  • Magnetic fields
  • Methods: numerical
  • MHD
  • Stars: formation

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