Buckling instability in tidally induced galactic bars
Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center, Polish Academy of Sciences, Bartycka 18, 00-716 Warsaw, Poland
Accepted: 18 February 2019
Strong galactic bars produced in simulations tend to undergo a period of buckling instability that weakens and thickens them and forms a boxy/peanut structure in their central parts. This theoretical prediction has been confirmed by identifying such morphologies in real galaxies. The nature and origin of this instability, however, remain poorly understood with some studies claiming that it is due to fire-hose instability while others relating it to vertical instability of stellar orbits supporting the bar. One of the channels for the formation of galactic bars is via the interaction of disky galaxies with perturbers of significant mass. Tidally induced bars offer a unique possibility of studying buckling instability because their formation can be controlled by changing the strength of the interaction while keeping the initial structure of the galaxy the same. We used a set of four simulations of flyby interactions where a galaxy on a prograde orbit forms a bar, which is stronger for stronger tidal forces. We studied their buckling by calculating different kinematic signatures, including profiles of the mean velocity in the vertical direction, as well as distortions of the bars out of the disk plane. Although our two strongest bars buckle most strongly, there is no direct relation between the ratio of vertical to horizontal velocity dispersion and the bar’s susceptibility to buckling, as required by the fire-hose instability interpretation. While our weakest bar buckles, a stronger one does not, its dispersion ratio remains low, and it grows to become the strongest of all at the end of evolution. Instead, we find that during buckling the resonance between the vertical and radial orbital frequencies becomes wide and therefore able to modify stellar orbits over a significant range of radii. We conclude that vertical orbital instability is the more plausible explanation for the origin of buckling.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: fundamental parameters / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: kinematics and dynamics / galaxies: spiral / galaxies: structure
© ESO 2019