Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 311, 377-384 (2000)

The origin and formation of cuspy density profiles through violent
relaxation of stellar systems

S. HOZUMI,  A. Burkert  and  T. Fujiwara

Accepted 1999 August 20. Received 1999 June 28; in original form 1998 December 31


It is shown that the cuspy density distributions observed in the cores of elliptical galaxies can be realized by dissipationless gravitational collapse. The initial models consist of power-law density spheres such as  ρ ∝ r -1  with anisotropic velocity dispersions.  Collapse simulations are carried out by integrating the collisionless Boltzmann equation directly, on the assumption of spherical symmetry. From the results obtained, the extent of constant density cores, formed through violent relaxation, decreases as the velocity anisotropy increases radially, and practically disappears for extremely radially anisotropic models.  As a result, the relaxed density distributions become more cuspy with increasing radial velocity anisotropy.  It is thus concluded that the velocity anisotropy could be a key ingredient for the formation of density cusps in a dissipationless collapse picture.  The velocity dispersions increase with radius in the cores according to the nearly power-law density distributions.  The power-law index, n, of the density profiles, defined as  ρ ∝ r -n, changes from  n  2.1  at intermediate radii to a shallower power than  n  2.1 toward the centre.  This density bend can be explained from our postulated local phase-space constraint that the phase-space density accessible to the relaxed state is determined at each radius by the maximum phase-space density of the initial state.

Key words: methods: numerical --- galaxies: formation --- galaxies: kinematics and dynamics --- galaxies: structure.