Formation of the small magellanic cloud: An ancient major merger as a solution to the kinematical differences between old stars and H I gas

Kenji Bekki, Masashi Chiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) have revealed that the H i gas shows a significant amount of rotation (Vc ∼ 60 km s-1), while no or little rotation is evident for the old stellar populations. We suggest that this unique kinematical difference between these components in the SMC can be caused by a major merger event which occurred in the early stage of the SMC formation. Our simulations show that dissipative dwarf-dwarf merging can transform two gas-rich dwarf irregulars into a new dwarf, which consists of a spheroidal stellar component and a rotating extended H i disk. The remnant of this dwarf-dwarf merging shows significantly different kinematics between stars and gas, in the sense that a gas disk rotates rapidly while a stellar component shows little rotation. We thus suggest that the simulated dwarf having a dynamically hot spheroid and an extended gas disk finally evolves into the present SMC after efficient stripping of the outer gas via tidal fields of the Galaxy and the Large Magellanic Cloud. We also suggest that spatial distributions and kinematics of RGB and AGB stars with different ages in the possible spheroidal component of the SMC can provide valuable information on whether and when a past major merger event really occurred in the SMC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L89-L92
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume679
Issue number2 PART 2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jan 1

Keywords

  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Galaxy: halo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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