Revisiting the pre-main-sequence evolution of stars I. Importance of accretion efficiency and deuterium abundance [SSA]

Recent theoretical work has shown that the pre-main-sequence (PMS) evolution of stars is much more complex than previously envisioned. Instead of the traditional steady, one-dimensional solution, accretion may be episodic and not necessarily symmetrical, thereby affecting the energy deposited inside the star and its interior structure. Given this new framework, we want to understand what controls the evolution of accreting stars. We use the MESA stellar evolution code with various sets of conditions. In particular, we account for the (unknown) efficiency of accretion in burying gravitational energy into the protostar through a parameter, $\xi$, and we vary the amount of deuterium present. We confirm the findings of previous works that the evolution changes significantly with the amount of energy that is lost during accretion. We find that deuterium burning also regulates the PMS evolution. In the low-entropy accretion scenario, the evolutionary tracks in the H-R diagram are significantly different from the classical tracks and are sensitive to the deuterium content. A comparison of theoretical evolutionary tracks and observations allows us to exclude some cold accretion models ($\xi\sim 0$) with low deuterium abundances. We confirm that the luminosity spread seen in clusters can be explained by models with a somewhat inefficient injection of accretion heat. The resulting evolutionary tracks then become sensitive to the accretion heat efficiency, initial core entropy, and deuterium content. In this context, we predict that clusters with a higher D/H ratio should have less scatter in luminosity than clusters with a smaller D/H. Future work on this issue should include radiation-hydrodynamic simulations to determine the efficiency of accretion heating and further observations to investigate the deuterium content in star-forming regions. (abbrev.)

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M. Kunitomo, T. Guillot, T. Takeuchi, et. al.
Tue, 28 Feb 17

Comments: Published in A&A. 16 pages, 14 figures