Volume 547, November 2012
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||25 October 2012|
Evolution along the sequence of S0 Hubble types induced by dry minor mergers
I. Global bulge-to-disk structural relations⋆
Departamento de AstrofísicaUniversidad Complutense de Madrid,
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, C/ Vía Láctea, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, 38200, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
4 Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Apartado 321, 38700 Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain
Received: 22 December 2011
Accepted: 4 September 2012
Context. Recent studies have argued that galaxy mergers are not important drivers for the evolution of S0’s, on the basis that mergers cannot preserve the coupling between the bulge and disk scale-lengths observed in these galaxies and the lack of correlation of their ratio with the S0 Hubble type. However, about 70% of present-day S0’s reside in groups, an environment where mergers and tidal interactions dominate galaxy evolution.
Aims. We investigate whether the remnants resulting from collision-less N-body simulations of intermediate and minor mergers onto S0 galaxies evolve fulfilling global structural relations observed between the bulges and disks of these galaxies.
Methods. Different initial bulge-to-disk ratios of the primary S0 have been considered, as well as different satellite densities, mass ratios, and orbits of the encounter. We have analysed the final morphology of the remnants in images simulating the typical observing conditions of S0 surveys. We derive bulge + disk decompositions of the final remnants to compare their global bulge-to-disk structure with observations.
Results. We show that all remnants present undisturbed S0 morphologies according to the prescriptions of specialized surveys. The dry intermediate and minor mergers induce noticeable bulge growth (S0c → S0b and S0b → S0a), but affect negligibly to the bulge and disk scale-lengths. Therefore, if a coupling between these two components exists prior to the merger, the encounter does not break this coupling. This fact provides a simple explanation for the lack of correlation between the ratio of bulge and disk scale-lengths and the S0 Hubble type reported by observations.
Conclusions. These models prove that dry intermediate and minor mergers can induce global structural evolution within the sequence of S0 Hubble types compatible with observations, meaning that these processes should not be discarded from the evolutionary scenarios of S0’s just on the basis of the strong coupling observed between the bulge and disk scale-lengths in these galaxies.
Key words: galaxies: bulges / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: formation / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: structure / galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
Figure 1 is available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2012
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