The Hall effect in star formation

C. R. Braiding*, M. Wardle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetic fields play an important role in star formation by regulating the removal of angular momentum from collapsing molecular cloud cores. Hall diffusion is known to be important to the magnetic field behaviour at many of the intermediate densities and field strengths encountered during the gravitational collapse of molecular cloud cores into protostars, and yet its role in the star formation process is not well studied. We present a semianalytic self-similar model of the collapse of rotating isothermal molecular cloud cores with both Hall and ambipolar diffusion, and similarity solutions that demonstrate the profound influence of the Hall effect on the dynamics of collapse. The solutions show that the size and sign of the Hall parameter can change the size of the protostellar disc by up to an order of magnitude and the protostellar accretion rate by 50per cent when the ratio of the Hall to ambipolar diffusivities is varied between -0.5 ≤η HA≤ 0.2. These changes depend upon the orientation of the magnetic field with respect to the axis of rotation and create a preferred handedness to the solutions that could be observed in protostellar cores using next-generation instruments such as ALMA. Hall diffusion also determines the strength and position of the shocks that bound the pseudo and rotationally supported discs, and can introduce subshocks that further slow accretion on to the protostar. In cores that are not initially rotating (not examined here), Hall diffusion can even induce rotation, which could give rise to disc formation and resolve the magnetic braking catastrophe. The Hall effect clearly influences the dynamics of gravitational collapse and its role in controlling the magnetic braking and radial diffusion of the field merits further exploration in numerical simulations of star formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-281
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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