Protoplanetary disk formation from the collapse of a prestellar core

Yueh Ning Lee*, Sébastien Charnoz, Patrick Hennebelle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Context. Between the two research communities that study star formation and protoplanetary disk evolution, only a few efforts have been made to understand and bridge the gap between studies of a collapsing prestellar core and a developed disk. While it has generally been accepted for about a decade that the magnetic field and its nonideal effects play important roles during the stellar formation, simple models of pure hydrodynamics and angular momentum conservation are still widely employed in the studies of disk assemblage in the framework of the so-called alpha-disk model because these models are simple. Aims. We revisit the assemblage phase of the protoplanetary disk and employ current knowledge of the prestellar core collapse. Methods. We performed 3D magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations with ambipolar diffusion and full radiative transfer to follow the formation of the protoplanetary disk within a collapsing prestellar core. The global evolution of the disk and its internal properties were analyzed to understand how the infalling envelope regulates the buildup and evolution of the disk. We followed the global evolution of the protoplanetary disk from the prestellar core collapse during 100 kyr with a reasonable resolution of AU. Two snapshots from this reference run were extracted and rerun with significantly increased resolution to resolve the interior of the disk. Results. The disk that formed under our simulation setup is more realistic and agrees with recent observations of disks around class 0 young stellar objects. The source function of the mass flux that arrives at the disk and the radial mass accretion rate within the disk are measured and compared to analytical self-similar models based on angular momentum conservation. The source function is very centrally peaked compared to classical hydrodynamical models, implying that most of the mass falling onto the star does not transit through the midplane of the disk. We also found that the disk midplane is almost dead to turbulence, whereas upper layers and the disk outer edge are highly turbulent, and this is where the accretion occurs. The snow line, located at about 5-10 AU during the infall phase, is significantly farther away from the center than in a passive disk. This result might be of numerical origin. Conclusions. We studied self-consistent protoplanetary disk formation from prestellar core collapse, taking nonideal MHD effects into account. We developed a zoomed rerun technique to quickly obtain a reasonable disk that is highly stratified, weakly magnetized inside, and strongly magnetized outside. During the class 0 phase of protoplanetary disk formation, the interaction between the disk and the infalling envelope is important and ought not be neglected. We measured the complex flow pattern and compared it to the classical models of pure hydrodynamical infall. Accretion onto the star is found to mostly depend on dynamics at large scales, that is, the collapsing envelope, and not on the details of the disk structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA101
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr 1


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • Planetary systems
  • Protoplanetary disks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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