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2001ApJ...559..754M - Astrophys. J., 559, 754-784 (2001/October-1)

The metamorphosis of tidally stirred dwarf galaxies.


Abstract (from CDS):

We present results from high-resolution N-body/SPH (smoothed particle hydrodynamic) simulations of rotationally supported dwarf irregular galaxies moving on bound orbits in the massive dark matter halo of the Milky Way. The dwarf models span a range in disk surface density and the masses and sizes of their dark halos are consistent with the predictions of cold dark matter cosmogonies. We show that the strong tidal field of the Milky Way determines severe mass loss in their halos and disks and induces bar and bending instabilities that transform low surface brightness dwarfs (LSBs) into dwarf spheroidals (dSphs) and high surface brightness dwarfs (HSBs) into dwarf ellipticals (dEs) in less than 10 Gyr. The final central velocity dispersions of the remnants are in the range 8-30 km.s–1 and their final v/σ falls to values less than 0.5, matching well the kinematics of early-type dwarfs. The transformation requires the orbital time of the dwarf to be ≲3-4 Gyr, which implies a halo as massive and extended as predicted by hierarchical models of galaxy formation to explain the origin of even the farthest dSph satellites of the Milky Way, Leo I, and Leo II. We show that only dwarfs with central dark matter densities as high as those of Draco and Ursa Minor can survive for 10 Gyr in the proximity of the Milky Way. A correlation between the central density and the distance of the dwarfs from the primary galaxy is indeed expected in hierarchical models, in which the densest objects should have small orbital times because of their early formation epochs. Part of the gas is stripped and part is funneled to the center because of the bar, generating one strong burst of star formation in HSBs and smaller, multiple bursts in LSBs. Therefore, the large variety of star formation histories observed in Local Group dSphs arises because different types of dIrr progenitors respond differently to the external perturbation of the Milky Way. Our evolutionary model naturally explains the morphology-density relation observed in the Local Group and in other nearby loose groups. Extended low surface brightness stellar and gaseous streams originate from LSBs and follow the orbit of the dwarfs for several gigayears. Because of their high velocities, unbound stars projected along the line of sight can lead to overestimating the mass-to-light ratio of the bound remnant by a factor ≲2, but this does not eliminate the need of extremely high dark matter contents in some of the dSphs.

Abstract Copyright:

Journal keyword(s): Galaxies: Dwarf - Galaxies: Evolution - Galaxies: Interactions - Galaxies: Kinematics and Dynamics - Galaxies: Local Group - Methods: {em n}-Body Simulations

Status at CDS:  

Simbad objects: 16

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