Status Report

Major Mergers and the Origin of Elliptical Galaxies

By SpaceRef Editor
January 21, 2003
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Astrophysics, abstract

From: Andreas Burkert <>
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 11:30:13 GMT (86kb)

Major Mergers and the Origin of Elliptical Galaxies

Andreas Burkert (MPIA, Heidelberg),
Thorsten Naab (IoA, Cambridge)

Comments: 13 pages, 5 figures, research review, to appear in “Galaxies and
Chaos”, eds. G. Contopoulos and N. Voglis (Springer)

The formation of elliptical galaxies as a result of the merging of spiral
galaxies is discussed. We analyse a large set of numerical N-Body merger
simulations which show that major mergers can in principle explain the observed
isophotal fine structure of ellipticals and its correlation with kinematical
properties. Equal-mass mergers lead to boxy, slowly rotating systems,
unequal-mass mergers produce fast rotating and disky ellipticals. However,
several problems remain. Anisotropic equal mass mergers appear disky under
certain projections which is not observed. The intrinsic ellipticities of
remnants are often larger than observed. Finally, although unequal-mass mergers
produce fast rotating ellipticals, the remnants are in general more anisotropic
than expected from observations. Additional processes seem to play an important
role which are not included in dissipationless mergers. Resolving these
problems might provide interesting new information on the structure and gas
content of the progenitors of early-type galaxies.

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