EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 401, Number 3, April III 2003
Page(s) 817 - 833
Section Cosmology
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030150

A&A 401, 817-833 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030150

Formation of polar ring galaxies

F. Bournaud1, 2 and F. Combes1

1  Observatoire de Paris, LERMA, 61 Av. de l'Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France
2  École Normale Supérieure, 45 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris, France

(Received 2 October 2002 / Accepted 17 January 2003 )

Polar ring galaxies are peculiar systems in which a gas-rich, nearly polar ring surrounds an early-type or elliptical host galaxy. Two formation scenarios for these objects have been proposed: they are thought to form either in major galaxy mergers or by tidal accretion of the polar material from a gas rich donor galaxy. Both scenarios are studied through N-body simulations including gas dynamics and star formation. Constraints on physical parameters are drawn out, in order to determine which scenario is the most likely to occur. Polar ring galaxies from each scenario are compared with observations and we discuss whether the accretion scenario and the merging scenario account for observational properties of polar ring galaxies. The conclusion of this study is that the accretion scenario is both the most likely and the most supported by observations. Even if the merging scenario is rather robust, most polar ring galaxies are shown to be the result of tidal gas accretion events.

Key words: galaxies: formation -- galaxies: kinematics and dynamics

Offprint request: F. Bournaud, Frederic.Bournaud@obspm.fr

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