Angular momentum transport and disc morphology in smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations of galaxy formation Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We perform controlled N-Body/SPH simulations of disk galaxy formation by cooling a rotating gaseous mass distribution inside equilibrium cuspy spherical and triaxial dark matter halos. We systematically study the angular momentum transport and the disk morphology as we increase the number of dark matter and gas particles from 10^4 to 10^6, and decrease the gravitational softening from 2 kpc to 50 parsecs. The angular momentum transport, disk morphology and radial profiles depend sensitively on force and mass resolution. At low resolution, similar to that used in most current cosmological simulations, the cold gas component has lost half of its initial angular momentum via different mechanisms. The angular momentum is transferred primarily to the hot halo component, by resolution-dependent hydrodynamical and gravitational torques, the latter arising from asymmetries in the mass distribution. In addition, disk-particles can lose angular momentum while they are still in the hot phase by artificial viscosity. In the central disk, particles can transfer away over 99% of their initial angular momentum due to spiral structure and/or the presence of a central bar. The strength of this transport also depends on force and mass resolution - large softening will suppress the bar instability, low mass resolution enhances the spiral structure. This complex interplay between resolution and angular momentum transfer highlights the complexity of simulations of galaxy formation even in isolated haloes. With 10^6 gas and dark matter particles, disk particles lose only 10-20% of their original angular momentum, yet we are unable to produce pure exponential profiles.

publication date

  • February 11, 2007