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Title: Using action space clustering to constrain the recent accretion history of Milky Way-like galaxies
ABSTRACT In the currently favoured cosmological paradigm galaxies form hierarchically through the accretion of satellites. Since a satellite is less massive than the host, its stars occupy a smaller volume in action space. Actions are conserved when the potential of the host halo changes adiabatically, so stars from an accreted satellite would remain clustered in action space as the host evolves. In this paper, we identify recently disrupted accreted satellites in three Milky Way-like disc galaxies from the cosmological baryonic FIRE-2 simulations by tracking satellites through simulation snapshots. We try to recover these satellites by applying the cluster analysis algorithm Enlink to the orbital actions of accreted star particles in the z = 0 snapshot. Even with completely error-free mock data we find that only 35 per cent (14/39) satellites are well recovered while the rest (25/39) are poorly recovered (i.e. either contaminated or split up). Most (10/14 ∼70 per cent) of the well-recovered satellites have infall times <7.1 Gyr ago and total mass >4 × 108M⊙ (stellar mass more than 1.2 × 106 M⊙, although our upper mass limit is likely to be resolution dependent). Since cosmological simulations predict that stellar haloes include a population of in situ stars, we test our ability to recover satellites when the data more » include 10–50 per cent in situ contamination. We find that most previously well-recovered satellites stay well recovered even with 50 per cent contamination. With the wealth of 6D phase space data becoming available we expect that cluster analysis in action space will be useful in identifying the majority of recently accreted and moderately massive satellites in the Milky Way. « less
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Award ID(s):
2007232 2045928
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
5882 to 5901
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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