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Galaxies 2018, 6(4), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/galaxies6040115

Galactic Density and Evolution Based on the Virial Theorem, Energy Minimization, and Conservation of Angular Momentum

Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
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Received: 25 May 2018 / Revised: 26 August 2018 / Accepted: 9 November 2018 / Published: 15 November 2018
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Abstract

Spiral galaxies are spinning, internally densified objects. The Virial Theorem explains galactic rotation curves via its linkage of the rotation rate to the gravitational self-potential (Ug) and the moment of inertia of oblate spheroids. We devise a new analytical solution that allows galactic mass and volumetric density (kg m−3) profiles to be extracted from velocity and its derivative as functions of equatorial radius. This inverse model of rotation curves is direct, unambiguous, and parameter-free. To probe galactic evolution, we combine energy minimization, angular momentum conservation, and the Virial Theorem. The characteristic flat shape of spiral galaxies results from an initial vertical collapse of a spinning, colossal molecular cloud, which reduces Ug while conserving angular momentum. Subsequent inward densification further lowers Ug, producing bulges, but conserving angular momentum requires mass loss, achieved by the outward movement of the distal parts of the spiral arms. Many of the evolutionary patterns of spiral galaxies are exhibited by the changing shapes of hurricanes during formation and dissipation. In contrast, elliptical galaxies evolve from a cloud with roughly random orbits into progressively rounder, internally denser objects, with angular momentum conserved by the development of vertically oriented jets. Galactic evolution is governed by the initial inventory of mass and angular momentum, resulting in separate paths for elliptical and spiral galaxies, as is codified in Hubble’s tuning fork diagram. View Full-Text
Keywords: inverse models; rotation curves; evolution; angular momentum; dissipation; spiral galaxies; elliptical galaxies inverse models; rotation curves; evolution; angular momentum; dissipation; spiral galaxies; elliptical galaxies
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Criss, R.E.; Hofmeister, A.M. Galactic Density and Evolution Based on the Virial Theorem, Energy Minimization, and Conservation of Angular Momentum. Galaxies 2018, 6, 115.

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