Our Milky Way As A Pure-Disk Galaxy-A Challenge for Galaxy Formation

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Date

2010-09

Authors

Shen, Juntai T.
Rich, R. Michael
Kormendy, John
Howard, Christian D.
De Propris, Roberto
Kunder, Andrea

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Abstract

Bulges are commonly believed to form in the dynamical violence of galaxy collisions and mergers. Here, we model the stellar kinematics of the Bulge Radial Velocity Assay ( BRAVA) and find no sign that the Milky Way contains a classical bulge formed by scrambling pre-existing disks of stars in major mergers. Rather, the bulge appears to be a bar seen somewhat end-on, as hinted from its asymmetric boxy shape. We construct a simple but realistic N-body model of the Galaxy that self-consistently develops a bar. The bar immediately buckles and thickens in the vertical direction. As seen from the Sun, the result resembles the boxy bulge of our Galaxy. The model fits the BRAVA stellar kinematic data covering the whole bulge strikingly well with no need for a merger-made classical bulge. The bar in our best-fit model has a half-length of similar to 4 kpc and extends 20 degrees from the Sun-Galactic center line. We use the new kinematic constraints to show that any classical bulge contribution cannot be larger than similar to 8% of the disk mass. Thus, the Galactic bulge is a part of the disk and not a separate component made in a prior merger. Giant, pure-disk galaxies like our own present a major challenge to the standard picture in which galaxy Formation is dominated by hierarchical clustering and galaxy mergers.

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Shen, Juntai, R. Michael Rich, John Kormendy, Christian D. Howard, Roberto De Propris, and Andrea Kunder. "Our Milky Way as a pure-disk galaxy—a challenge for galaxy formation." The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 720, No. 1 (Sep., 2010): L72.