Extended H I Spiral Structure and the Figure Rotation of Triaxial Dark Halos

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Abstract

The H I disk of the blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxy NGC 2915 extends to 22 optical scale lengths and shows spiral arms reaching far beyond the optical component. None of the previous theories for spiral structure provide likely explanations for these very extended spiral arms. Our numerical simulations first demonstrate that such large spiral arms can form in an extended gas disk embedded in a massive triaxial dark matter halo with slow figure rotation, through the strong gravitational torque of the rotating halo. We then show that the detailed morphological properties of the developed spirals and rings depend strongly on the pattern speed of the figure rotation, the shape of the triaxial halo, and the inclination of the disk with respect to the plane including the triaxial halo's long and middle axes. These results strongly suggest that the dark matter halo of NGC 2915 is triaxial and has figure rotation. Based on these results, we also suggest that dynamical effects of triaxial halos with figure rotation are important in various aspects of galaxy formation and evolution, such as formation of polar ring galaxies, excitation of nonaxisymmetric structures in low surface brightness galaxies, and gas fueling to the central starburst regions of BCDs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L21-L24
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Volume574
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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