Does the Milky Way have a maximal disk?

PD Sackett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

198 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Milky Way is often considered to be the best example of a spiral for which the dark matter not only dominates the outer kinematics but also plays a major dynamical role in the inner galaxy: the Galactic disk is therefore said to be ''submaximal.'' This conclusion is important to the understanding of the evolution of galaxies and the viability of particular dark matter models. The Galactic evidence rests on a number of structural and kinematic measurements, many of which have recently been revised. The new constraints not only indicate that the Galaxy is a more typical member of its class (Sb to Sc spirals) than previously thought but also require a reexamination of the question of whether the Milky Way disk is maximal. By applying to the Milky Way the same definition of ''maximal disk'' that is applied to external galaxies, it is shown that the new observational constraints are consistent with a Galactic maximal disk of reasonable M/L. In particular, the local disk column can be substantially less than the oft-quoted required Sigma(.) approximate to 100 M-. pc(-2)-as low as 40 M-. pc(-2) in the extreme case-and still be maximal, in the sense that the dark halo provides negligible rotation support in the inner Galaxy. This result has possible implications for any conclusion that rests on assumptions about the potential of the Galactic disk or dark halo and, in particular, for the interpretation of microlensing results along both LMC and bulge lines of sight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume483
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jul-1997

Keywords

  • dark matter
  • galaxies, kinematics and dynamics
  • Galaxy, kinematics and dynamics
  • Galaxy, structure
  • SURFACE MASS DENSITY
  • GALACTIC DISK
  • ROTATION CURVE
  • FAINT MAGNITUDES
  • SPIRAL GALAXIES
  • DARK MATTER
  • STAR COUNTS
  • DISTANCES
  • SUN
  • LUMINOSITY

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