Self-gravitating fragmentation of eccentric accretion disks

Richard D. Alexander, Philip J. Armitage, Jorge Cuadra, Mitchell C. Begelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


We consider the effects of eccentricity on the fragmentation of gravitationally unstable accretion disks, using numerical hydrodynamics. We find that eccentricity does not affect the overall stability of the disk against fragmentation, but significantly alters the manner in which such fragments accrete gas. Variable tidal forces around an eccentric orbit slow the accretion process, and suppress the formation of weakly bound clumps. The "stellar" mass function resulting from the fragmentation of an eccentric disk is found to have a significantly higher characteristic mass than that from a corresponding circular disk. We discuss our results in terms of the disk(s) of massive stars at ≃0.1 pc from the Galactic center, and find that the fragmentation of an eccentric accretion disk, due to gravitational instability, is a viable mechanism for the formation of these systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-935
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Galaxy: center
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Methods: numerical stars: luminosity function, mass function


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