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Title:
Formation of Massive Counterrotating Disks in Spiral Galaxies
Authors:
Thakar, Aniruddha R.; Ryden, Barbara S.
Publication:
Astrophysical Journal v.461, p.55 (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
04/1996
Origin:
APJ; NED
Astronomy Keywords:
GALAXIES: SPIRAL, GALAXIES: STRUCTURE, GALAXIES: EVOLUTION, GALAXIES: INTERACTIONS, GALAXIES: KINEMATICS AND DYNAMICS, HYDRODYNAMICS
DOI:
10.1086/177037
Bibliographic Code:
1996ApJ...461...55T

Abstract

We present results of numerical simulations of the formation of a massive counterrotating gas disk in a spiral galaxy. Using a hierarchical tree gravity solver combined with a sticky particle gas-dissipation scheme for our simulations, we have investigated three mechanisms: episodic gas infall, continuous gas infall, and a merger with a gas-rich dwarf galaxy. We find that both episodic and continuous gas infall work reasonably well and are able to produce a substantial counterrotating gas disk without upsetting the stability of the existing disk drastically, but it is very important for the gas to be well dispersed in phase space and not form concentrated clumps prior to its absorption by the disk galaxy. The initial angular momentum of the gas also plays a crucial role in determining the scale length of the counter-rotating disk that is formed and the time it takes to form. The rate of infall, i.e., the mass of gas falling in per unit time, has to be small enough to preclude excessive heating of the preexisting disk. It is much easier in general to produce a smaller counterrotating disk than it is to produce an extensive disk with a scale length similar to that of the original, prograde disk. A gas-rich dwarf merger does not appear to be a viable mechanism to produce a massive counter-rotating disk because only a very small dwarf galaxy can produce a counterrotating disk without increasing the thickness of the existing disk by an order of magnitude, and the timescale for this process is prohibitively long because it makes it very unlikely that several such mergers can accumulate a massive counterrotating disk over a Hubble time.

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