On the identification of substructure in phase-space using orbital frequencies

Research paper by Facundo A. Gomez, Amina Helmi

Indexed on: 03 Dec '09Published on: 03 Dec '09Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies


We study the evolution of satellite debris to establish the most suitable space to identify past merger events. We confirm that the space of orbital frequencies is very promising in this respect. In frequency space individual streams can be easily identified, and their separation provides a direct measurement of the time of accretion. We are able to show for a few idealised gravitational potentials that these features are preserved also in systems that have evolved strongly in time. Furthermore, this time evolution is imprinted in the distribution of streams in frequency space. We have also tested the power of the orbital frequencies in a fully self-consistent (live) N-body simulation of the merger between a disk galaxy and a massive satellite. Even in this case streams can be easily identified and the time of accretion of the satellite can be accurately estimated.