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Journal Article

Kinematic signatures of nuclear discs and bar-driven secular evolution in nearby galaxies of the MUSE TIMER project


Fragkoudi,  Francesca
Computational Structure Formation, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Gadotti, D. A., Bittner, A., Falcón-Barroso, J., Méndez-Abreu, J., Kim, T., Fragkoudi, F., et al. (2020). Kinematic signatures of nuclear discs and bar-driven secular evolution in nearby galaxies of the MUSE TIMER project. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 643: A14. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202038448.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-B953-B
The central regions of disc galaxies hold clues to the processes that dominate their formation and evolution. To exploit this, the TIMER project has obtained high signal-to-noise and spatial resolution integral-field spectroscopy data of the inner few kpc of 21 nearby massive barred galaxies, which allows studies of the stellar kinematics in their central regions with unprecedented spatial resolution. We confirm theoretical predictions of the effects of bars on stellar kinematics and identify box/peanuts through kinematic signatures in mildly and moderately inclined galaxies, finding a lower limit to the fraction of massive barred galaxies with box/peanuts at ∼62%. Further, we provide kinematic evidence of the connection between barlenses, box/peanuts, and bars. We establish the presence of nuclear discs in 19 galaxies and show that their kinematics are characterised by near-circular orbits with low pressure support and that they are fully consistent with the bar-driven secular evolution picture for their formation. In fact, we show that these nuclear discs have, in the region where they dominate, larger rotational support than the underlying main galaxy disc. In addition, we define a kinematic radius for the nuclear discs and show that it relates to bar radius, ellipticity and strength, and bar-to-total ratio. Comparing our results with photometric studies of galaxy bulges, we find that careful, state-of-the-art galaxy image decompositions are generally able to discern nuclear discs from classical bulges if the images employed have high enough physical spatial resolution. In fact, we show that nuclear discs are typically identified in such image decompositions as photometric bulges with (near-)exponential profiles. However, we find that the presence of composite bulges (galaxies hosting both a classical bulge and a nuclear disc) can often be unnoticed in studies based on photometry alone and suggest a more stringent threshold to the Sérsic index to identify galaxies with pure classical bulges.