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Paper: Stability and Evolution of Galactic Discs
Volume: 160, Astrophysical Discs: An EC Summer School
Page: 327
Authors: Sellwood, J. A.
Abstract: In this review, I discuss just three aspects of the stability and evolution of galactic discs. (1) I first review our understanding of the bar instability and how it can be controlled. Disc galaxies in which the orbital speed does not decrease much towards the centre have no difficulty avoiding bars, even when dark matter makes an insignificant contribution to the inner part of the rotation curve. (2) I then briefly discuss interactions between disturbances in the discs of galaxies and the spherical components, which generally exert a damping effect through dynamical friction. The fact that bars in real galaxies appear to rotate quite rapidly, seems to require dark matter halos to have large, low-density cores. (3) In the remainder of the article, I consider the theory of spiral structure. The new development here is that the distribution function for stars in the Solar neighbourhood, as measured by HIPPARCOS, is far less smooth than most theoretical work had previously supposed. The strong variations in the values of the DF over small ranges in angular momentum have the appearance of having been caused by scattering at Lindblad resonances with spiral patterns. This result, if confirmed when the radial velocity data become available, supports the picture of spiral patterns as dynamical instabilities driven by substructure in the DF. The details of how decaying patterns might seed conditions for a new instability remain unclear, and deserve fresh attention.
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