AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 87 Galaxy Structure and Evolution
Oral, Tuesday, 10:00-11:30am, January 10, 2006, Delaware B

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[87.03] Incomplete Violent Relaxation of Collisionless Stellar Systems

M. Trenti (Space Telescope Science Institute)

Elliptical galaxies may have formed from collisionless collapse, reaching dynamical equilibrium by incomplete violent relaxation. We have tested this picture by showing that analytical models constructed by combining physical clues from the above scenario with statistical mechanics considerations - the so-called f(\nu) models - not only match the observed basic structure of elliptical galaxies (for a constant mass-to-light ratio), but are also able to fit the density profiles (over nine orders of magnitude; with relative error within 10%) and the phase space properties (in particular, the pressure anisotropy profile with mean error below 8%) of the results of collisionless collapse obtained in a variety of N-body simulations. To our knowledge, this is the first time that an analytically simple model constructed from physical arguments is matched successfully to the results of N-body experiments of galaxy formation.

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