I review some recent work on low-mass star formation, with an emphasis on theory, basic principles, and unresolved questions. Star formation is both a gravitational fragmentation problem as well as an accretion problem. Molecular cloud structure can be understood as a fragmentation process driven by the interplay of turbulence, magnetic fields, and gravity (acting on either a dynamical or ambipolar-diffusion time scale). This results in a natural way to understand filamentary structure as magnetic ribbons that have an apparent width that scales differently than the Jeans length. Recent work also shows that stellar mass accretion through a disk is episodic. We show through numerical simulations that bursts of FU Ori type may be clustered, since the clump that accretes to the center is tidally sheared apart in its last stage of infall. Finally, we utilize a simplified model of stellar mass accretion and accretion termination to derive an analytic form for the initial mass function that has a lognormal-like body and a power-law tail. This scenario is consistent with an expectation of a larger number of substellar objects than may have been previously detected.
Tue, 7 Mar 17
Comments: 8 pages, 6 figures, to appear in proceedings of SFDE conference, eds. D. Johnstone, T. Hoang, F. Nakamura, Q. N. Luong, and J. T. Tranh Van