Updated: 6 March 2011

Valparaiso University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Senior Honors Thesis 2002−2003

The Formation of Substellar Companions due to Protostellar Disk Instabilities:
Modeling the Effects of the Gravitational Environment

Advisor: Brian K. Pickett
Purdue University-Calumet

Thesis (PDF)


Modern observations have shown that the majority of stars are found in binary or even multiple star systems and that these systems form during the early stages of the stellar evolution. In addition, the number of stars with known planetary companions has increased dramatically in recent years. However, the process of stellar and substellar companion formation is not well understood. This study builds upon the work of Pickett et al., who have simulated the evolution of environmentally isolated, self-gravitating, rapidly rotating protostellar disks in order to characterize the conditions under which substellar companions form in condensations of gas and dust. Using a modified version of their three-dimensional hydrodynamics code, this study examines the gravitational effects of the surrounding environment on the evolution of a protostellar disk.