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T. Zeltwanger (University of Maine)
We have developed a self-consistent N-body plus hydrodynamic computer program to model and study the behavior of disk galaxies like our Milky Way. Our goal is to better understand how such galaxies maintain their spiral structure for billions of years.
The program utilizes a gravitating N-body code to simulate the collisionless star particles in the galaxy, and a gravitating hydrodynamic portion of the code to simulate the interstellar medium in the form of gas and clouds. Additionally, the potential due to a static spherical halo and a central black hole interacts gravitationally with the other components of the model galaxy. All components interchange mass, energy, and momentum through various evolution processes and gravity.
The research for this thesis primarily studies the interaction between stars and the interstellar medium. These interactions include cloud formation from gas by Jeans instability, star formation by cloud collision, star formation from clouds by Jeans instability, star formation by snowplow effects, gas infall from the halo, and energy and mass transfer due to supernovae.
The simulations done for this thesis produced results that are in agreement with observations of spiral galaxies, and they can be used to make predictions about the properties and behavior of disk galaxies, such as the formation of spiral arms, or the formation of a central bar. These predictions can then be tested against observations.
This work was made possible by a generous donation of SUN and HP workstations by EDS (Electronic Data Systems), and a Graduate Teaching Assistantship from the University of Maine.