The relative efficiencies of bars and clumps in driving disc stars to retrograde motion

Fiteni, Karl, Caruana, Joseph, Amarante, Joao A.S., Debattista, Victor P orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7902-0116 and Beraldo E silva, Leandro orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0740-1507 (2021) The relative efficiencies of bars and clumps in driving disc stars to retrograde motion. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 503 (1). pp. 1418-1430. ISSN 0035-8711

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The presence of stars on retrograde orbits in disc galaxies is usually attributed to accretion events, both via direct accretion, as well as through the heating of the disc stars. Recent studies have shown that retrograde orbits can also be produced via scattering by dense clumps, which are often present in the early stages of a galaxy’s evolution. However, so far it has been unclear whether other internally-driven mechanisms, such as bars, are also capable of driving retrograde motion. Therefore, in this paper, we investigate the efficiencies with which bars and clumps produce retrograde orbits in disc galaxies. We do this by comparing the retrograde fractions and the spatial distributions of the retrograde populations in four N-body+smooth particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations of isolated disc galaxies spanning a range of evolutionary behaviours. We find that both bars and clumps are capable of generating significant retrograde populations of order ∼10% of all stars. We also find that while clump-driven retrograde stars may be found at large galactocentric radii, bar-driven retrograde stars remain in the vicinity of the bar, even if the bar dissolves. Consequently, we find that retrograde stars in the Solar Neighbourhood in the clumpy models are exclusively clump-driven, but this is a trace population, constituting 0.01−0.04% of the total stellar population in this region. Finally, we find that neither bars (including dissolving ones) nor clumps in the models are able to produce rotationally supported counter-rotating discs.

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