Angular momentum loss during pre-main sequence contraction

  • L. Mestel
1. Pre-Main Sequence Stars
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 193)


Current ideas on the early stages of star formation suggest strongly that proto-stars enter the pre-main sequence phase rotating rapidly. The subsequent rotational evolution of both single and binary stars is largely determined by angular momentum transport by a magnetically-controlled stellar wind. A massive star with a cool corona but with a modest relic magnetic field may be prevented from fragmenting into a binary system through the braking action of a centrifugally-driven wind. A late-type pre-main sequence star will generate by dynamo action a magnetic field of surface strength Bo that depends on the angular velocity Ω. The consequent braking can be powerful enough to cause spin-down in spite of the contraction. The predicted Ω(t) law depends on the Bo (Ω) relation, on whether the wind is thermal, thermo-centrifugal, or magneto-centrifugal, and on the fraction of the magnetosphere with open field-line. Angular momentum loss from a tidally locked binary pair can lead to the formation of late-type contact binaries with rapidly rotating members, and ultimately to their coalescence into one rapid rotator.


Angular Momentum Wind Zone Star Formation Poloidal Field Centrifugal Acceleration 
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© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Mestel
    • 1
  1. 1.Astronomy CentreUniversity of SussexFalmerEngland

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