Dynamical friction on cold fractal gas clouds. Applications to disc formation
Department of Physics, Waseda University, Oh-kubo, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8555, Japan
2 Observatoire de Paris, DEMIRM, 61 Av. de l'Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France
Corresponding author: B. Semelin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 18 February 2002
It is likely that cold molecular clouds form at high redshift, before galaxies. Considering these cold clouds instead of hot homogeneous gas as the main baryonic component of proto-galactic halos may affect several issues during galaxy formation. In particular, the baryonic matter loses angular momentum through dynamical friction on the dark matter halo. In numerical simulations using hot gas for baryonic matter, this gives rise to the so-called angular momentum problem. In this work, we study the dynamical friction exerted on cold fractal gas by a collisionless background (dark matter) through high-resolution numerical simulations. First, we find that, for values of the parameters relevant during galaxy formation, the friction does not alter the morphology of the fractal, which is mainly driven by internal dynamics. Then, we show that the presence of substructures and inhomogeneities in a body has little effect on the global value of the friction. Parameters such as branching ratio and fractal dimension also have little effect. In fact, we find that the main effect comes from the deformations and fluctuations of the fractal structure in cold gas clumps. If the deformation time is of the same order of magnitude or shorter than the typical build-up time of the friction, the friction is weakened. We argue that this effect is relevant for galaxy formation, and that the angular momentum problem should not be worsened by including the small scale inhomogeneities of the cold gas which occur at a resolution out of reach of present simulations.
Key words: methods: numerical / galaxies: formation
© ESO, 2002