Journal Article

Loss of halo triaxiality due to bar formation

Rubens E. G. Machado and E. Athanassoula

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 406, issue 4, pages 2386-2404
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16890.x
Loss of halo triaxiality due to bar formation

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Cosmological N-body simulations indicate that the dark matter haloes of galaxies should be generally triaxial. Yet, the presence of a baryonic disc is believed to alter the shape of the haloes. Here we aim to study how bar formation is affected by halo triaxiality and how, in turn, the presence of the bar influences the shape of the halo. We perform a set of collisionless N-body simulations of disc galaxies with triaxial dark matter haloes, using elliptical discs as initial conditions. Such discs are much closer to equilibrium with their haloes than circular ones, and the ellipticity of the initial disc depends on the ellipticity of the halo gravitational potential. For comparison, we also consider models with initially circular discs, and find that the differences are very important. In all cases, the mass of the disc is grown quasi-adiabatically within the haloes, but the time-scale of growth is not very important. We study models of different halo triaxialities and, to investigate the behaviour of the halo shape in the absence of bar formation, we run models with different disc masses, halo concentrations, disc velocity dispersions and also models where the disc shape is kept artificially axisymmetric. We find that the introduction of a massive disc, even if this is not circular, causes the halo triaxiality to be partially diluted. Once the disc is fully grown, a strong stellar bar develops within the halo that is still non-axisymmetric, causing it to lose its remaining non-axisymmetry. In triaxial haloes in which the parameters of the initial conditions are such that a bar does not form, the halo is able to remain triaxial and the circularization of its shape on the plane of the disc is limited to the period of disc growth. We conclude that part of the circularization of the halo is due to disc growth, but part must be attributed to the formation of a bar. Bars in the halo component, which have already been found in axisymmetric haloes, are also found in triaxial ones. We find that initially circular discs respond excessively to the triaxial potential and become highly elongated. They also lose more angular momentum than the initially elliptical discs and thus form stronger bars. Because of that, the circularization that their bars induce on their haloes is also more rapid. We also analyse halo vertical shapes and observe that their vertical flattenings remain considerable, meaning that the haloes become approximately oblate by the end of the simulations. Finally, we also analyse the kinematics of a subset of halo particles that rotate in disc-like manner. These particles occupy a layer around the plane of the disc and their rotation is more important in the spherical halo than in triaxial ones. We also find that, even though the final shape of the halo is roughly independent of the initial shape, the initially triaxial ones are able to retain the anisotropy of their velocity dispersions.

Keywords: methods: numerical; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: haloes; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics; galaxies: structure

Journal Article.  16071 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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