The dynamical imprint of elliptical galaxy formation through mergers

02/23/2010 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Loren Hoffman
Speaker affiliation: 
Northwestern University

Since the violent relaxation in hierarchical merging is incomplete, the distribution functions of galaxies contain a wealth of information about their formation pathways.  Recent advances in integral field spectroscopy, multi-slit infrared spectroscopy, and dynamical modeling techniques have greatly improved our ability to harvest this information.  I will discuss how various formation processes may imprint themselves on the present-day orbital structure of galaxies, with an emphasis on mergers between dynamically cold systems.  The merger model predicts a physically intuitive structure that bears a tantalizing resemblance to dynamical models of some observed slowly rotating ellipticals.  Simulated merger remnants also show a sharp kinematic transition between ~1 and 3 effective radii, highlighting the importance of large-radius spectroscopic observations for constraining galaxy formation models.

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