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Deuterium and the stellar birthline
Stahler, Steven W.
AA(MIT, Cambridge, MA)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 332, Sept. 15, 1988, p. 804-825. NASA-supported research. (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Deuterium, Protostars, Star Formation, Stellar Evolution, Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, Stellar Mass, Stellar Models, T Tauri Stars
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A series of simplified evolutionary calculations are used to show that deuterium burning acts as an effective thermostat in low-mass protostars over a plausible range of initial conditions and mass accretion rates. The thermostat keeps the central temperature of the accreting hydrostatic core close to 10 to the 6th K, and thereby tightly constrains the core's mass-radius relation. This relation, when combined with premain-sequence evolutionary tracks, yields a theoretical birthline or upper envelope for young stars in the H-R diagram which maintains excellent agreement with observations of T Tauri stars in nearby molecular cloud complexes. This derivation of the birthline helps to explain its insensitivity to protostellar collapse conditions. The calculations indicate that the birthline will be little affected by the inclusion of rotation as long as the newly visible stars have lost most of their accreted angular momentum.

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