Monday, June 10, 2013

1306.1548 (Manodeep Sinha et al.)

A First Look at Galaxy Flyby Interactions: Characterizing the Frequency of Flybys in a Cosmological Context    [PDF]

Manodeep Sinha, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann
Hierarchical structure formation theory is based on the notion that mergers drive galaxy evolution, so a considerable framework of semi-analytic models and N-body simulations has been constructed to calculate how mergers transform a growing galaxy. However, galaxy mergers are only one type of major dynamical interaction between halos -- another class of encounter, a close flyby, has been largely ignored. We analyze a 50 Mpc/h, $1024^3$ collisionless cosmological simulation and find that the number of close flyby interactions is comparable to, or even surpasses, the number of mergers for halo masses $\ga 10^{11}\,{h^{-1} M_\odot}$ at $z \la 2$. Halo flybys occur so frequently to high mass halos that they are continually perturbed, unable to reach a dynamical equilibrium. We also find tentative evidence that at high redshift, $z \ga 14$, flybys are as frequent as mergers. Our results suggest that close halo flybys can play an important role in the evolution of the earliest dark matter halos and their galaxies, and can still influence galaxy evolution at the present epoch.
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