Magnetic fields during galaxy mergers
1 Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
2 Departamento de Astronomía, Facultad Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Concepción, Av. Esteban Iturra s/n Barrio Universitario, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
Received: 17 September 2015
Accepted: 30 June 2016
Galaxy mergers are expected to play a central role for the evolution of galaxies and may have a strong effect on their magnetic fields. We present the first grid-based 3D magnetohydrodynamical simulations investigating the evolution of magnetic fields during merger events. For this purpose, we employed a simplified model considering the merger event of magnetized gaseous disks in the absence of stellar feedback and without a stellar or dark matter component. We show that our model naturally leads to the production of two peaks in the evolution of the average magnetic field strength within 5 kpc, within 25 kpc, and on scales in between 5 and 25 kpc. The latter is consistent with the peak in the magnetic field strength previously reported in a merger sequence of observed galaxies. We show that the peak on the galactic scale and in the outer regions is most likely due to geometrical effects, as the core of one galaxy enters the outskirts of the other one. In addition, the magnetic field within the central ~5 kpc is physically enhanced, which reflects the enhancement in density that is due to efficient angular momentum transport. We conclude that high-resolution observations of the central regions will be particularly relevant for probing the evolution of magnetic field structures during merger events.
Key words: Galaxy: evolution / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: magnetic fields / methods: numerical
© ESO, 2016