Astrophysics (Index)About


(enlargement of an astronomical body by gravitationally attracting additional mass)

Accretion is the drawing of matter into an astronomical body by gravity, e.g., a star drawing matter, such as a binary star drawing matter from its companion. Black holes also accrete matter, and in both cases, it can produce observable phenomena. Accretion by developing planets is considered a key part of planet formation.

The accretion rate in mass per unit time is used in calculations regarding accretion disks and other phenomena.

Accretion can produce heat, transformed from the potential energy due to the gravitational force between the accreting matter and the body to which it is falling, and the energy so-transformed is termed the accretion luminosity. A maximum accretion rate (Eddington accretion rate) can be calculated by assuming that black-body radiation from the accretion-generated heat creates radiation pressure against the fall of the accreting matter, and assuming the phenomena is spherically symmetric and steady-state. Higher accretion (super-Eddington accretion) can occur if not all these assumptions apply, and may be relevant to some apparently very bright sources.

Runaway accretion (aka accretion runaway) refers to situations where some usual mechanism for regulating accretion doesn't occur or is nullified and the accretion rate increases until some other mechanism limits it (which in some cases could be the eventual absence of material to accrete). The terms are used for a number of phenomena including planet formation (e.g., gas giants), star formation, and some stages in the evolution of stars.

Pebble accretion, associated with planet-formation theories, consists of a planetesimal accreting objects on the order of a centimeter to a meter in size (pebbles) within a protoplanetary disk.

(gravity,black holes,stars,binary stars)
Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
accretion disk
accretion rate
active galaxy
advection dominated accretion flow (ADAF)
active galactic nucleus (AGN)
Algol (Beta Per)
alpha disk
atmosphere formation
black hole accretion rate (BHAR)
black hole model
black hole shadow
binary star
black hole (BH)
Bondi radius
carbon star (C)
cold mass accretion (CMA)
cold gas
common envelope
Compton reflection
core accretion model
direct collapse black hole (DCBH)
dwarf nova (DN)
Eddington luminosity
FU Orionis star (FUor)
giant planet
giant planet formation
gravitational instability model
GRS 1915+105
Hydrogen Accretion in Local Galaxies Survey (HALOGAS)
Hill radius
isolation mass
jet current
Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism
Lambda Boötis star (λ Boo)
line tomography
magma ocean
mass loading
mass transfer
pebble accretion
planet formation
protoplanetary disk (PPD)
pulsar (PSR)
quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO)
retrograde accretion
Sag A*
Salpeter timescale
SMBH formation
supernova progenitor
supernova remnant (SNR)
star formation (SF)
stellar-mass black hole
stellar evolution
symbiotic binary (SS)
transitional disk
Type Ia supernova
variable star
X-ray burster (XRB)
X-ray source