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Tidal disruption of dwarf spheroidal galaxies: the strange case of Crater II

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-08-28, 15:24 authored by Jason L. Sanders, N. W. Evans, W. Dehnen
Dwarf spheroidal galaxies of the Local Group obey a relationship between the line-of-sight velocity dispersion and half-light radius, although there are a number of dwarfs that lie beneath this relation with suppressed velocity dispersion. The most discrepant of these (in the Milky Way) is the ‘feeble giant’ Crater II. Using analytic arguments supported by controlled numerical simulations of tidally stripped flattened two-component dwarf galaxies, we investigate interpretations of Crater II within standard galaxy formation theory. Heavy tidal disruption is necessary to explain the velocity dispersion suppression which is plausible if the proper motion of Crater II is (μα*, μδ) = (−0.21 ± 0.09, −0.24 ±  0.09) mas yr^−1. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the velocity dispersion of tidally disrupted systems is solely a function of the total mass-loss even for weakly embedded and flattened systems. The half-light radius evolution depends more sensitively on orbital phase and the properties of the dark matter profile. The half-light radius of weakly embedded cusped systems rapidly decreases producing some tension with the Crater II observations. This tension is alleviated by cored dark matter profiles, in which the half-light radius can grow after tidal disruption. The evolution of flattened galaxies is characterized by two competing effects: tidal shocking makes the central regions rounder whilst tidal distortion produces a prolate tidally locked outer envelope. After ∼70 per cent of the central mass is lost, tidal distortion becomes the dominant effect and the shape of the central regions of the galaxy tends to a universal prolate shape irrespective of the initial shape.


JLS acknowledges the support of the STFC. We have made use of the CORNER package from Foreman-Mackey (2016) and the PYGAIA package kindly provided by the Gaia Project Scientist Support Team and the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC).



Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2018, 478(3), pp. 3879–3889.

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


Oxford University Press (OUP), Royal Astronomical Society





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