Volume 548, December 2012
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||05 December 2012|
Radial migration does little for Galactic disc thickening
1 Leibniz-Institut fü Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
2 Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, Observatoire Astronomique, 11 rue de l’Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
3 AIfA, University of Bonn, Germany
4 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA
5 Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
6 Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology, PO Box 218, Hawthorn, VIC 3122, Australia
Received: 30 May 2012
Accepted: 14 October 2012
Non-axisymmetric components, such as spirals and central bars, play a major role in shaping galactic discs. An important aspect of the disc secular evolution driven by these perturbers is the radial migration of stars. It has been suggested recently that migration can populate a thick-disc component from inner-disc stars with high vertical energies. Since this has never been demonstrated in simulations, we study in detail the effect of radial migration on the disc velocity dispersion and disc thickness, by separating simulated stars into migrators and non-migrators. We apply this method to three isolated barred Tree-SPH N-body galaxies with strong radial migration. Contrary to expectations, we find that as stellar samples migrate, on the average, their velocity dispersion change (by as much as 50%) in such a way as to approximately match the non-migrating population at the radius at which they arrive. We show that, in fact, migrators suppress heating in parts of the disc. To confirm the validity of our findings, we also apply our technique to three cosmological re-simulations, which use a completely different simulation scheme and, remarkably, find very similar results. We believe the inability of migration to thicken discs is a fundamental property of internal disc evolution, irrespective of the migration mechanism at work. We explain this with the approximate conservation of the (average) vertical and radial actions rather than the energy. This “action mixing” can be used to constrain the migration rate in the Milky Way: estimates of the average vertical action in observations for different populations of stars should reveal flattening with radius for older groups of stars.
Key words: Galaxy: disk / Galaxy: evolution / Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics / Galaxy: structure / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
© ESO, 2012
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