Magnetic and Gravitational Disk-Star Interactions: An Interdependence of PMS Stellar Rotation Rates and Spin-Orbit Misalignments

The presence of giant gaseous planets that reside in close proximity to their host stars may be a consequence of large-scale radial migration through the proto-planetary nebulae. Within the context of this picture, significant orbital obliquities characteristic of a substantial fraction of such planets can be attributed to external torques that perturb the disks out of alignment with the spin axes of their host stars. Therefore, the acquisition of orbital obliquity exhibits sensitive dependence on the physics of disk-star interactions. Here, we analyze the primordial excitation of spin-orbit misalignment of Sun-like stars, in light of disk-star angular momentum transfer. We begin by calculating the stellar pre-main sequence rotational evolution, accounting for spin-up due to gravitational contraction and accretion as well as spin-down due to magnetic star-disk coupling. We devote particular attention to angular momentum transfer by accretion, and show that while generally subdominant to gravitational contraction, this process is largely controlled by the morphology of the stellar magnetic field (i.e. specific angular momentum accreted by stars with octupole-dominated surface fields is smaller than that accreted by dipole-dominated stars by an order of magnitude). Subsequently, we examine the secular spin-axis dynamics of disk-bearing stars, accounting for the time-evolution of stellar and disk properties and demonstrate that misalignments are preferentially excited in systems where stellar rotation is not overwhelmingly rapid. Moreover, we show that the excitation of spin-orbit misalignment occurs impulsively, through an encounter with a resonance between the stellar precession frequency and the disk-torquing frequency. Cumulatively, the model developed herein opens up a previously unexplored avenue towards understanding star-disk evolution and its consequences in a unified manner.

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Date added: Wed, 9 Oct 13