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Stellar discs in Aquarius dark matter haloes

Authors


E-mail: debuhj@berkeley.edu

ABSTRACT

We investigate the gravitational interactions between live stellar discs and their dark matter haloes, using Λ cold dark matter haloes similar in mass to that of the Milky Way taken from the Aquarius Project. We introduce the stellar discs by first allowing the haloes to respond to the influence of a growing rigid disc potential from z = 1.3 to 1.0. The rigid potential is then replaced with star particles which evolve self-consistently with the dark matter particles until z = 0.0. Regardless of the initial orientation of the disc, the inner parts of the haloes contract and change from prolate to oblate as the disc grows to its full size. When the disc's normal is initially aligned with the major axis of the halo at z = 1.3, the length of the major axis contracts and becomes the minor axis by z = 1.0. Six out of the eight discs in our main set of simulations form bars, and five of the six bars experience a buckling instability that results in a sudden jump in the vertical stellar velocity dispersion and an accompanying drop in the m = 2 Fourier amplitude of the disc surface density. The bars are not destroyed by the buckling but continue to grow until the present day. Bars are largely absent when the disc mass is reduced by a factor of 2 or more; the relative disc-to-halo mass is therefore a primary factor in bar formation and evolution. A subset of the discs is warped at the outskirts and contains prominent non-coplanar material with a ring-like structure. Many discs reorient by large angles between z = 1 and 0, following a coherent reorientation of their inner haloes. Larger reorientations produce more strongly warped discs, suggesting a tight link between the two phenomena. The origins of bars and warps appear independent: some discs with strong bars show little disturbances at the outskirts, while the discs with the weakest bars show severe warps.

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