Dark influences: III. Structural characterization of minor mergers of dwarf galaxies with dark satellites

T. K. Starkenburg, A. Helmi, L. V. Sales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context. In the current concordance cosmology small halos are expected to be completely dark and can significantly perturb low-mass galaxies during minor merger interactions. These interactions may well contribute to the diversity of the dwarf galaxy population. Dwarf galaxies in the field are often observed to have peculiarities in their structure, morphology, and kinematics, as well as strong bursts of star formation without apparent cause. Aims. We aim to characterise the signatures of minor mergers of dwarf galaxies with dark satellites to aid their observational identification. Methods. We explored and quantified a variety of structural, morphological, and kinematic indicators of merging dwarf galaxies and their remnants using a suite of hydrodynamical simulations. Results. The most sensitive indicators of mergers with dark satellites are large asymmetries in the gaseous and stellar distributions, enhanced central surface brightness and starbursts, and velocity offsets and misalignments between the gas and stellar components. In general, merging systems span a wide range of values of the most commonly used indicators, while isolated objects tend to have more confined values. Interestingly, we find in our simulations that a significantly off-centred burst of star formation can pinpoint the location of the dark satellite. Observational systems with such characteristics are perhaps the most promising for unveiling the presence of the hitherto missing satellites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA56
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Volume595
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Keywords

  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: interactions
  • Galaxies: irregular
  • Galaxies: starburst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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