Journal Article

Jeans instability in a tidally disrupted halo satellite galaxy

Justin Comparetta and Alice C. Quillen

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 414, issue 2, pages 810-822
Published in print June 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Jeans instability in a tidally disrupted halo satellite galaxy

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We use a hybrid test particle/N-body simulation to integrate four million massless test particle trajectories within a fully self-consistent 105 particle N-body simulation. The number of massless particles allows us to resolve fine structure in the spatial distribution and phase space of a dwarf galaxy as it is disrupted in the tidal field of a Milky Way type galaxy. The tidal tails exhibit nearly periodic clumping. By running simulations with different satellite particle mass, halo particle mass, number of massive and massless particles and with and without a galaxy disc, we have determined that the instabilities are not due to numerical noise, amplification of structure in the halo or shocking as the satellite passes through the disc of the galaxy. We measure Jeans wavelengths and growth time-scales in the tidal tail and show that the Jeans instability is a viable explanation for the clumps. We find that the instability causes velocity perturbations of order 10 km s−1. Clumps in tidal tails present in the Milky Way could be seen in stellar radial velocity surveys as well as number counts. We find that the unstable wavelength growth is sensitive to the simulated mass of dark matter halo particles. A simulation with a smoother halo exhibits colder and thinner tidal tails with more closely spaced clumps than a simulation with more massive dark matter halo particles. Heating by the halo particles increases the Jeans wavelength in the tidal tail affecting substructure development, suggesting an intricate connection between tidal tails and dark matter halo substructure.

Keywords: instabilities; galaxies: dwarf; galaxies: halo

Journal Article.  7916 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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