The Formation of Low-Mass Stars and Brown Dwarfs

Stamatellos, Dimitris orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4502-8344, Goodwin, Simon and Ward-Thompson, Derek orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1140-2761 (2014) The Formation of Low-Mass Stars and Brown Dwarfs. The Labyrinth of Star Formation, 36 . pp. 17-24. ISSN 1570-6591

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It is estimated that ∼ 60 % of all stars (including brown dwarfs) have masses below 0. 2 M⊙. Currently, there is no consensus on how these objects form. I will briefly review the four main theories for the formation of low-mass objects: turbulent fragmentation, ejection of protostellar embryos, disc fragmentation, and photo-erosion of prestellar cores. I will focus on the disc fragmentation theory and discuss how it addresses critical observational constraints, i.e. the low-mass initial mass function, the brown dwarf desert, and the binary statistics of low-mass stars and brown dwarfs. I will examine whether observations may be used to distinguish between different formation mechanisms, and give a few examples of systems that strongly favour a specific formation scenario. Finally, I will argue that it is likely that all mechanisms may play a role in low-mass star and brown dwarf formation.

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