Volume 597, January 2017
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||11 January 2017|
Disk heating and bending instability in galaxies with counterrotation
1 GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Université Paris Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France
2 Institute of Astronomy, Russian Academy of Sciences, 48 Pyatnitskaya st., 119017 Moscow, Russia
3 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Celoria 16, 20133 Milano, Italy
Received: 1 June 2016
Accepted: 6 October 2016
With the help of high-resolution long-slit and integral-field spectroscopy observations, the number of confirmed cases of galaxies with counterrotation is increasing rapidly. The evolution of such counterrotating galaxies remains far from being well understood. In this paper we study the dynamics of counterrotating collisionless stellar disks by means of N-body simulations. We show that, in the presence of counterrotation, an otherwise gravitationally stable disk can naturally generate bending waves accompanied by strong disk heating across the disk plane, that is in the vertical direction. Such a conclusion is found to hold even for dynamically warm systems with typical values of the initial vertical-to-radial velocity dispersion ratio σz/σR ≈ 0.5, for which the role of pressure anisotropy should be unimportant. We note that, during evolution, the σz/σR ratio tends to rise up to values close to unity in the case of locally Jeans-stable disks, whereas in disks that are initially Jeans-unstable it may reach even higher values, especially in the innermost regions. This unusual behavior of the σz/σR ratio in galaxies with counterrotation appears not to have been noticed earlier. Our investigations of systems made of two counterrotating components with different mass-ratios suggest that even apparently normal disk galaxies (i.e., with a minor counterrotating component so as to escape detection in current observations) might be subject to significant disk heating especially in the vertical direction.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: kinematics and dynamics / galaxies: structure
© ESO, 2017
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