Dissipation and extra light in galactic nuclei. I. Gas-rich merger remnants.
HOPKINS P.F., HERNQUIST L., COX T.J., DUTTA S.N. and ROTHBERG B.
Abstract (from CDS):
We study the origin and properties of ``extra'' or ``excess'' central light in the surface brightness profiles of remnants of gas-rich mergers. By combining a large set of hydrodynamical simulations with data on observed mergers that span a broad range of profiles at various masses and degrees of relaxation, we show how to robustly separate the physically meaningful extra light (i.e., the stellar population formed in a compact central starburst during a gas-rich merger) from the outer profile established by violent relaxation acting on stars already present in the progenitor galaxies prior to the final stages of the merger. This separation is sensitive to the treatment of the profile, and we demonstrate that certain fitting procedures can yield physically misleading results. We show that our method reliably recovers the younger starburst population, and examine how the properties and mass of this component scale with the mass, gas content, and other aspects of the progenitors. We consider the time evolution of the profiles in different bands, and estimate the biases introduced by observational studies at different phases and wavelengths. We show that, when appropriately quantified, extra light is ubiquitous in both observed and simulated gas-rich merger remnants, with sufficient mass (∼3%-30% of the stellar mass) to explain the apparent discrepancy in the maximum phase-space densities of ellipticals and their progenitor spirals. The nature of this central component provides a powerful new constraint on the formation histories of observed systems and can inform both our studies of their progenitors and our understanding of the global kinematics and structure of spheroids.
Cosmology: Theory - Galaxies: Active - Galaxies: Evolution - Galaxies: Nuclei - Galaxies: Quasars: General