Volume 617, September 2018
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||02 October 2018|
The constraining effect of gas and the dark matter halo on the vertical stellar distribution of the Milky Way
Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 560012, India
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
Accepted: 26 June 2018
We study the vertical stellar distribution of the Milky Way thin disk in detail with particular focus on the outer disk. We treat the galactic disk as a gravitationally coupled, three-component system consisting of stars, atomic hydrogen gas, and molecular hydrogen gas in the gravitational field of the dark matter halo. The self-consistent vertical distribution for stars and gas in such a realistic system is obtained for radii between 4–22 kpc. The inclusion of an additional gravitating component constrains the vertical stellar distribution toward the mid-plane, so that the mid-plane density is higher, the disk thickness is reduced, and the vertical density profile is steeper than in the one-component, isothermal, stars-alone case. We show that the stellar distribution is constrained mainly by the gravitational field of gas and dark matter halo in the inner and the outer Galaxy, respectively. We find that the thickness of the stellar disk (measured as the half-width at half-maximum of the vertical density distribution) increases with radius, flaring steeply beyond R = 17 kpc. The disk thickness is reduced by a factor of 3–4 in the outer Galaxy as a result of the gravitational field of the halo, which may help the disk resist distortion at large radii. The disk would flare even more if the effect of dark matter halo were not taken into account. Thus it is crucially important to include the effect of the dark matter halo when determining the vertical structure and dynamics of a galactic disk in the outer region.
Key words: Galaxy: disk / Galaxy: halo / Galaxy: structure / galaxies: ISM / galaxies: kinematics and dynamics / galaxies: structure
© ESO 2018
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