Journal Article

Global <i>m</i> = 1 instabilities and lopsidedness in disc galaxies

V. Dury, S. De Rijcke, Victor P. Debattista and H. Dejonghe

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 387, issue 1, pages 2-12
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Global m = 1 instabilities and lopsidedness in disc galaxies

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Lopsidedness is common in spiral galaxies. Often, there is no obvious external cause, such as an interaction with a nearby galaxy, for such features. Alternatively, the lopsidedness may have an internal cause, such as a dynamical instability. In order to explore this idea, we have developed a computer code that searches for self-consistent perturbations in razor-thin disc galaxies and performed a thorough mode-analysis of a suite of dynamical models for disc galaxies embedded in an inert dark matter halo with varying amounts of rotation and radial anisotropy.

Models with two equal-mass counter-rotating discs and fully rotating models both show growing lopsided modes. For the counter-rotating models, this is the well-known counter-rotating instability, becoming weaker as the net rotation increases. The m = 1 mode of the maximally rotating models, on the other hand, becomes stronger with increasing net rotation. This rotatingm = 1 mode is reminiscent of the eccentricity instability in near-Keplerian discs.

To unravel the physical origin of these two different m = 1 instabilities, we studied the individual stellar orbits in the perturbed potential and found that the presence of the perturbation gives rise to a very rich orbital behaviour. In the linear regime, both instabilities are supported by aligned loop orbits. In the non-linear regime, other orbit families exist that can help support the modes. In terms of density waves, the counter-rotating m = 1 mode is due to a purely growing Jeans-type instability. The rotating m = 1 mode, on the other hand, grows as a result of the swing amplifier working inside the resonance cavity that extends from the disc centre out to the radius where non-rotating waves are stabilized by the model's outwardly risingQ profile.

Keywords: instabilities; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics; galaxies: spiral; galaxies: structure

Journal Article.  7212 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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