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Physics  1999 

Testing linear-theory predictions of galaxy formation

DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-8711.2000.03107.x

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The angular momentum of galaxies is routinely ascribed to a process of tidal torques acting during the early stages of gravitational collapse, and is predicted from the initial mass distribution using second-order perturbation theory and the Zel'dovich approximation. We have tested this theory for a flat hierarchical cosmogony using a large N-body simulation with sufficient dynamic range to include tidal fields, allow resolution of individual galaxies, and thereby expand on previous studies. We find relatively good correlation between the predictions of linear theory and actual galaxy evolution. While structure formation from early times is a complex history of hierarchical merging, salient features are well described by the simple spherical-collapse model. Most notably, we test several methods for determining the turnaround epoch, and find that turnaround is succesfully described by the spherical collapse model. The angular momentum of collapsing structures grows linearly until turnaround, as predicted, and continues quasi-linearly until shell crossing. The predicted angular momentum for well-resolved galaxies at turnaround overestimates the true turnaround and final values by a factor of ~3 with a scatter of ~70 percent, and only marginally yields the correct direction of the angular momentum vector. We recover the prediction that final angular momentum scales as mass to the 5/3 power. We find that mass and angular momentum also vary proportionally with peak height.


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