Using Tidal Tails to Probe Dark Matter Halos

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Session 39 -- Spiral, Dwarf and Irregular Galaxies
Display presentation, Wednesday, June 14, 1995, 9:20am - 6:30pm

[39.09] Using Tidal Tails to Probe Dark Matter Halos

Chris Mihos, John Dubinski, and Lars Hernquist (UC Santa Cruz)

We present a series of numerical simulations of merging galaxies to explore the effect of differing halo mass distributions on the morphology of tidal tails. We employ composite disk/bulge/halo galaxy models which span a range of halo properties from low mass, compact halos to very massive, extended halos, and possess identically flat rotation curves inside a few disk scale lengths. These merger experiments are performed with a range of impact parameters, inclinations and mass ratios for the galaxies as well. Our simulations indicate that even under the most favorable conditions, galaxies with extended dark matter halos produce very anemic tidal tails when merging. In light of several observed mergers which sport prominent tidal tails --- e.g. , NGC 7252, NGC 4038/39 (``The Antennae"), NGC 4676, and most spectacularly IRAS 19254-7245 (``The Superantennae") --- our results suggest that galaxy halos may be significantly more compact and less massive than expected in $\Omega =1$ cosmological scenarios.

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