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N-body dynamical modelling of the Milky Way disc for the Gaia era

Hunt, JAS; (2015) N-body dynamical modelling of the Milky Way disc for the Gaia era. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

We present a new dynamical modelling code, called PRIMAL, designed to reveal the structure of the Galactic disc from the upcoming observational data of the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission. PRIMAL is based on the Made-to-Measure method, where a particle based galaxy model is adjusted to match observational constraints. In PRIMAL, observables of the target system are compared with those of an N-body model at the position of the target stars. The masses of the N-body model particles are changed to reproduce the observables of the target system and the gravitational potential is adjusted self-consistently. First, we show that the algorithm can recreate an axisymmetric disc system created by N-body simulations in a known dark matter halo with no error in the observables. We then adapt the algorithm to include likelihood based velocity constraints, which can take into account observational error of individual stars, and demonstrate that PRIMAL can recreate disc systems with a bar, including recovery of the pattern speed of the bar. Finally, we apply PRIMAL to mock observational data generated from an N-body barred disc simulation by replacing each N-body particle with a single M0 giant star and applying the dust extinction and expected Gaia errors. We show that PRIMAL can reproduce the structure and kinematics of the target system, despite the Galactic extinction and the observational errors in the mock target data. In addition, we present a population synthesis code, called SNAPDRAGONS, which can generate a Gaia-like mock star catalogue from N-body simulations, taking into account stellar populations, dust extinction and Gaia errors. By examining Gaia mock data generated from our N-body simulation, we find that the peculiar kinematics around the co-rotating spiral arms commonly seen in N-body simulations is visible in the mock Gaia data.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: N-body dynamical modelling of the Milky Way disc for the Gaia era
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471905
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