Unraveling the Formation History of Elliptical Galaxies
T.J. Cox (CfA)
The idea that galaxies in general, and elliptical galaxies
in particular, are shaped by their merger history has gained
widespread acceptance. However, a detailed mapping between
specific merger histories, and the wide variety of galaxies
observed is still uncertain. By using a comprehensive set
of numerical simulations, we show that a single disk-disk
merger, as originally proposed by the "merger hypothesis,"
is a plausible mechanism to form many elliptical galaxies
provided that dissipation is involved. We also show that
additional (merger?) processes are likely needed to form th
e largest ellipticals and we outline several properties
commonly observed in elliptical galaxies that may provide
insight into their formation history.