Formation of ω Centauri from an ancient nucleated dwarf galaxy in the young Galactic disc

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Abstract

We first present a self-consistent dynamical model in which ω Cen is formed from an ancient nucleated dwarf galaxy merging with the first generation of the Galactic thin disc in a retrograde manner with respect to the Galactic rotation. Our numerical simulations demonstrate that during merging between the Galaxy and the ω Cen host dwarf with MB~=-14 mag and its nucleus mass of 107 Msolar, the outer stellar envelope of the dwarf is nearly completely stripped, whereas the central nucleus can survive from the tidal stripping because of its compactness. The developed naked nucleus has a very bound retrograde orbit around the young Galactic disc, as observed for ω Cen, with apocentre and pericentre distances of ~8 and ~1 kpc, respectively. The Galactic tidal force can induce radial inflow of gas to the centre of the dwarf and consequently triggers moderately strong nuclear starbursts in a repetitive manner. This result implies that efficient nuclear chemical enrichment resulting from the later starbursts can be closely associated with the origin of the observed relatively young and metal-rich stars in ω Cen. Dynamical heating by the ω Cen host can transform the young thin disc into the thick disc during merging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L11-L15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume346
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

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