Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 1996. 34: 155-206
Copyright © 1996 by . All rights reserved

Next Contents Previous

6.2. Galactic Encounters

There is strong observational evidence that a number of spiral galaxies are interacting gravitationally with a neighbor. The clearest nearby example is M81, which is believed to have undergone a recent encounter with NGC 3077 (probably less than 109 yr ago). Because the orbit of NGC 3077 is approximately in the disk plane of M81, this system is particularly well suited to simulation, and Thomasson & Donner (1993) predict nonaxisymmetric velocities of order 10 km s-1 in the disk of M81. With etat ~ 1026 cm2 s-1 and L ~ 1 kpc, the magnetic Reynolds number UL / etat is then about 30, quite large enough to affect significantly the disk fields (Vallée 1986). Interestingly, M81 appears to have a strong bisymmetric field component. M33 also may have some bisymmetric field structure, and it is believed to be interacting with M31. Recently, at least weak evidence has been found for BSS in the interacting galaxy NGC 2276 (Hummel & Beck 1995) and for MSS in M51 (EM Berkhuijsen et al, in preparation).

If we consider a Fourier decomposition of bar{u} and bar{B} into parts bar{u}m, bar{B}m, corresponding to an azimuthal wave number m, then the induction term nabla × (bar{u} × bar{B}) can give rise to a bisymmetric field component in two ways. If the dynamo basically generates an axisymmetric field bar{B}0, then bar{u}1 can generate a slaved m = 1 component bar{B}1 from the bar{u}1 × bar{B}0 interaction. Moss et al (1993b) investigated this possibility in a nonlinear model with a relatively thick disk, using a velocity field based on the Thomasson & Donner (1993) simulation. They found that a globally modest bisymmetric field component could be generated, concentrated to the outer part of the disk, where it may dominate. More subtly, the bar{u}2 × bar{B}1 interaction (giving rise directly to m = 1 and m = 3 field components) may be such as to increase the linear growth rate of the bisymmetric field component compared to that of the axisymmetric component, so that in the nonlinear case a substantial bisymmetric field could survive. Moss (1995) showed that, in a simple linear model, the m = 1 field could then be excited at lower dynamo number than the m = 0 field, but a nonlinear investigation using a more realistic model is needed to clarify the importance of this mechanism. The remarks concerning the modal interactions apply, of course, whatever the mechanism providing the velocity field. In particular, it may be relevant that a bar{u}2 × bar{B}0 interaction can give rise to a slaved m = 2 field component.

Next Contents Previous