The role of galaxy collisions in determining the structure and evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters is investigated by means of a direct computer simulation. Galaxy collisions are treated in a realistic manner, including both galaxy mergers and tidal encounters. Simulations of rich, regular clusters show that tidal encounters remove significant amounts of material from the galaxies, and this may be identified with background light in clusters like Coma. Tidal encounters cause the cluster mass function to evolve to smaller masses, and the shape of the resulting mass function is independent of initial conditions and model parameters. The implications of these results for loose groups and dwarf galaxies are discussed.
- Pub Date:
- Physics: Astronomy and Astrophysics