A new look at the kinematics of neutral hydrogen in the Small Magellanic Cloud

S. Stanimirovic, Lister Staveley-Smith, P.A. Jones

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    196 Citations (Scopus)


    We have used the latest H I observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), obtained with the Australia Telescope Compact Array and the Parkes telescope, to reexamine the kinematics of this dwarf irregular galaxy. A large velocity gradient is found in the H I velocity field, with a significant symmetry in isovelocity contours, suggestive of a differential rotation. A comparison of H I data with the predictions from tidal models for the SMC evolution suggests that the central region of the SMC corresponds to the central disklike or barlike component left from the rotationally supported SMC disk prior to its last two encounters with the Large Magellanic Cloud. In this scenario, the velocity gradient is expected as a leftover from the original, preencounter angular momentum. We have derived the H I rotation curve and the mass model for the SMC. This rotation curve rapidly rises to about 60 km s-1 up to the turnover radius of ~3 kpc. A stellar mass-to-light ratio of about unity is required to match the observed rotation curve, suggesting that a dark matter halo is not needed to explain the dynamics of the SMC. A set of derived kinematic parameters agrees well with the assumptions used in tidal theoretical models that led to a good reproduction of observational properties of the Magellanic System. The dynamical mass of the SMC, derived from the rotation curve, is 2.4 × 109 M☉.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)176-186
    JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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