Journal Article

Simulations of the formation of stellar discs in the Galactic Centre via cloud–cloud collisions

Alexander Hobbs and Sergei Nayakshin

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 394, issue 1, pages 191-206
Published in print March 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online March 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Simulations of the formation of stellar discs in the Galactic Centre via cloud–cloud collisions

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Young massive stars in the central parsec of our Galaxy are best explained by star formation within at least one, and possibly two, massive self-gravitating gaseous discs. With help of numerical simulations, we here consider whether the observed population of young stars could have originated from a large angle collision of two massive gaseous clouds at R≃ 1 pc from Sgr A*. In all the simulations performed, the post-collision gas flow forms an inner, nearly circular gaseous disc and one or two eccentric outer filaments, consistent with the observations. Furthermore, the radial stellar mass distribution is always very steep, Σ*R−2, again consistent with the observations. All of our simulations produce discs that are warped by between 30° and 60°, in accordance with the most recent observations. The three-dimensional velocity structure of the stellar distribution is sensitive to initial conditions (e.g. the impact parameter of the clouds) and gas cooling details. For example, the runs in which the inner disc is fed intermittently with material possessing fluctuating angular momentum result in multiple stellar discs with different orbital orientations, contradicting the observed data. In all the cases the amount of gas accreted by our inner boundary condition is large, enough to allow Sgr A* to radiate near its Eddington limit over ∼105 yr. This suggests that a refined model would have physically larger clouds (or a cloud and a disc such as the circumnuclear disc) colliding at a distance of a few parsecs rather than 1 pc as in our simulations.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; stars: formation; Galaxy: centre; galaxies: active

Journal Article.  11906 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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