Journal Article

Identifying Local Group field galaxies that have interacted with the Milky Way

Maureen Teyssier, Kathryn V. Johnston and Michael Kuhlen

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 426, issue 3, pages 1808-1818
Published in print November 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Identifying Local Group field galaxies that have interacted with the Milky Way

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We distinguish between Local Group field galaxies that may have passed through the virial volume of the Milky Way, and those that have not, via a statistical comparison against populations of dark matter haloes in the Via Lactea II (VLII) simulation with known orbital histories. Analysis of VLII provides expectations for this escaped population: they contribute 13 per cent of the galactic population between 300 and 1500 kpc from the Milky Way, and hence we anticipate that about 7 of the 54 known Local Group galaxies in that distance range are likely to be Milky Way escapees. These objects can be of any mass below that of the Milky Way, and they are expected to have positive radial velocities with respect to the Milky Way. Comparison of the radius–velocity distributions of VLII populations and measurements of Local Group galaxies presents a strong likelihood that Tucana, Cetus, NGC 3109, Sextans A, Sextans B, Antlia, NGC 6822, Phoenix, Leo T and NGC 185 have passed through the Milky Way. Most of these dwarfs have a lower H i mass fraction than the majority of dwarfs lying at similar distances to either the Milky Way or M31. Indeed, several of these galaxies — especially those with lower masses — contain signatures in their morphology, star formation history and/or gas content indicative of evolution seen in simulations of satellite/parent galactic interactions. Our results offer strong support for scenarios in which dwarfs of different types form a sequence in morphology and gas content, with evolution along the sequence being driven by interaction history.

Keywords: Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics; galaxies: dwarf; galaxies: formation; galaxies: interactions; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics; galaxies: structure

Journal Article.  7729 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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