The FU Orionis Outburst as a Thermal Accretion Event

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Session 68 -- Star Formation
Oral presentation, Thursday, 10:30-12:00, Zellerbach Playhouse Room

[68.02] The FU Orionis Outburst as a Thermal Accretion Event

\def\mdot{\relax \ifmmode {\dot {\rm M}} \else ${\dot {\rm M}}$ \fi} \def\mspy{\relax \ifmmode {{\rm M}_{\odot}/{\rm yr}} \else ${{\rm M}_{\odot}/{\rm yr}}$ \fi} K.~R.~Bell and D.~N.~C.~Lin (UCSC)

Although active accretion disks have long been postulated to be ubiquitous among low mass young stellar objects (YSOs), little is known about physical conditions in these disks. Time scales observed during FU~Orionis events (dramatic outbursts thought to occur in all YSOs) are used to constrain the magnitude of the disk's viscosity. The hypothesis is put forward that all YSOs receive infall onto their outer disks which is steady (or slowly declining with time) and that FU~Orionis outbursts are self--regulated thermally triggered repetitive accretion events. Outbursts will occur in systems where the infall rate is high enough for hydrogen to be ionized in the inner annuli ($\mdot > \mdot_{crit} \approx 5\times 10^{-7}$~\mspy) and whose disks are thus subject to the thermal instability. One dimensional convective vertical structure models and one dimensional radial time dependent diffusion models are combined to create a self-consistent picture in which FU~Orionis outbursts are the result of a large scale thermal ionization instability which propagates through the disk to a distance of several tenths of an AU. We find that viscous efficiencies between $10^{-3}$ and $10^{-4}$ combined with infall accretion rates in the range of $(3-10)\times 10^{-6}$~\mspy (consistent with estimates of spherical collapse rates in molecular cloud cores) produce observed FU~Orionis time scales for one solar mass central objects. Observable consequences of this model are discussed.

KRB would like to acknowledge support from NASA graduate training program NGT-50665.

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