After reviewing our current knowledge of dark matter (DM) in spiral galaxies (Chapter 1), I present a new method of deriving the shape of these dark halos (Chapter 2). Such information, if obtained for a large number of systems, can provide important boundary conditions for theories of the formation of galaxies (Chapter 5). The halo-shape determination method relies on the comparison of model predictions of the thickness of the gas layer with observations of this flaring. Calculating the model gas layer widths from the observed gaseous velocity dispersion and the potential due to the total mass distribution of the galaxy we learn the following: (a) beyond the optical disk the thickness of the gas layer is sensitive to the shape of the DM halo, (b) the thickness of the gas layer is proportional to the ratio of the gaseous velocity dispersion and the rotation speed, (c) the self-gravity of the gas contributes significantly to the vertical force, (d) the derived shape of the DM halo is independent of the dark matter's radial density distribution, and is independent of the mass-to-light ratio of the stellar disk (f). In Chapter 3 I present a new method (usable for inclinations larger than 60^circ) to determine the thickness of the gas layer of spiral galaxies from high resolution H sc I observations. I use VLA H sc I observations of the almost edge-on Scd galaxy NGC 4244 to determine the gaseous velocity dispersion, and the flaring and rotation curves. From the Keplerian decline of the rotation curve beyond the stellar disks it follows that the dark-to-luminous mass ratio is at most two and a half. Combining the model predictions for the radial variation of the thickness of the gas layer with the measured flaring curve I find that the dark matter halo of NGC 4244 is highly flattened. The best fit occurs for a halo with an E8 shape (with a mass one-eight of an E0 halo), while the uncertainty (E5-E9) is dominated by the errors in the gaseous velocity dispersion: a round halo is inferred if the vertical dispersion equals 70% of the planar dispersion.
- Pub Date:
- January 1995
- INTERSTELLAR MEDIUM;
- SPIRAL GALAXIES;
- Physics: Astronomy and Astrophysics