Volume 515, June 2010
|Number of page(s)||9|
|Published online||28 May 2010|
The slowing down of galaxy disks in dissipationless minor mergers
GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Université
Paris Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India
Accepted: 16 February 2010
We have investigated the impact of dissipationless minor galaxy mergers on the angular momentum of the remnant. Our simulations cover a range of initial orbital characteristics, and the system consists of a massive galaxy with a bulge and disk merging with a much less massive (one-tenth or one-twentieth) gasless companion that has a variety of morphologies (disk- or elliptical-like) and central baryonic mass concentrations. During the process of merging, the orbital angular momentum is redistributed into the internal angular momentum of the final system; the internal angular momentum of the primary galaxy can increase or decrease depending on the relative orientation of the orbital spin vectors (direct or retrograde), while the initially nonrotating dark matter halo always gains angular momentum. The specific angular momentum of the stellar component always decreases independently of the orbital parameters or morphology of the satellite, the decrease in the rotation velocity of the primary galaxy is accompanied by a change in the anisotropy of the orbits, and the ratio of rotation speed to velocity dispersion of the merger remnant is lower than the initial value, not only because of an increase in the dispersion but also of the slowing-down of the disk rotation. We briefly discuss several astrophysical implications of these results, suggesting that minor mergers do not cause a “random walk” process of the angular momentum of the stellar disk component of galaxies, but rather a steady decrease. Minor mergers may play a role in producing the large scatter observed in the Tully-Fisher relation for S0 galaxies, as well as in the increase of the velocity dispersion and the decrease in v/σ at large radii as observed in S0 galaxies.
Key words: galaxies: interactions / galaxies: formation / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: kinematics and dynamics / galaxies: structure
© ESO, 2010
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