University of Oulu, Astronomy Research Unit, PO Box 3000 90014 Oulu, Finland
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
4 Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, IC2, Liverpool Science Park, 146 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L3 5RF, UK
5 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, PO Box 800 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
Accepted: 29 January 2019
Thick discs are nearly ubiquitous components of the discs of present-day galaxies. It has been proposed that a fraction of their stars have been accreted. Here, we aim to find whether accretion of satellites is the main formation mechanism of thick discs. To do so, we observed a sample of eight nearby edge-on galaxies with the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) integral field unit at the Very Large Telescope (VLT). Six of the galaxies have a distinct thick disc. We derived thick-disc velocities and velocity dispersions for the galaxies in our sample. We devise a formalism to estimate the fractions of retrograde material in the thick discs by using kinematical maps and thin/thick disc decompositions. None of the galaxies in our sample show strong evidence for retrograde material at large distances from the centre. Including those found in the literature, there are seventeen thick discs with studied kinematics, with only one showing unambiguous signatures of retrograde material. Literature numerical studies of dynamical friction allow us to estimate that at the current cosmic time about one in six mergers for which the stars of the accreted galaxy ended in a thick disc were retrograde. This is in tension with the observed fraction of galaxies with a partly retrograde thick disc (one in seventeen). We conclude that satellite accretion is not favoured by observations to be the main formation mechanism of thick discs.
Key words: galaxies: kinematics and dynamics / galaxies: spiral / galaxies: structure / galaxies: evolution
Based on observations made at the European Southern Observatory using the VLT under programmes 096.B-0054(A) and 097.B-0041(A).
The reduced datacubes and the data required to recreate the kinematical maps shown in Appendix A are available to the community. The data for each galaxy in our sample can be accessed through the following links: ESO 157-49, ESO 443-21, ESO 469-15, ESO 544-27, IC 217, IC 1553, PGC 28308, and PGC 30591.
© ESO 2019