Publications associated with Galactic dynamics

Resolving the disc-halo degeneracy II: NGC 6946

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press 500 (2020) 3579-3593

S Aniyan, A Ponomareva, K Freeman, M Arnaboldi, O Gerhard, L Coccato, K Kuijken, M Merrifield

The mass-to-light ratio (M/L) is a key parameter in decomposing galactic rotation curves into contributions from the baryonic components and the dark halo of a galaxy. One direct observational method to determine the disc M/L is by calculating the surface mass density of the disc from the stellar vertical velocity dispersion and the scale height of the disc. Usually, the scale height is obtained from near-IR studies of edge-on galaxies and pertains to the older, kinematically hotter stars in the disc, while the vertical velocity dispersion of stars is measured in the optical band and refers to stars of all ages (up to ∼ 10 Gyr) and velocity dispersions. This mismatch between the scale height and the velocity dispersion can lead to underestimates of the disc surface density and a misleading conclusion of the sub-maximality of galaxy discs. In this paper we present the study of the stellar velocity dispersion of the disc galaxy NGC 6946 using integrated star light and individual planetary nebulae as dynamical tracers. We demonstrate the presence of two kinematically distinct populations of tracers which contribute to the total stellar velocity dispersion. Thus, we are able to use the dispersion and the scale height of the same dynamical population to derive the surface mass density of the disc over a radial extent. We find the disc of NGC 6946 to be closer to maximal with the baryonic component contributing most of the radial gravitational field in the inner parts of the galaxy (⁠Vmax(bar)=0.76(±0.14)Vmax⁠).

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