Simulated ΛCDM analogues of the thin plane of satellites around the Andromeda galaxy are not kinematically coherent structures

Tobias Buck, Aaron A. Dutton, Andrea V. Macciò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A large fraction of the dwarf satellites orbiting the Andromeda galaxy are surprisingly aligned in a thin, extended and apparently kinematically coherent planar structure. Such a structure is not easily found in simulations based on the cold dark matter model (ΛCDM). Using 21 high-resolution cosmological simulations, we analyse the kinematics of planes of satellites similar to the one around Andromeda. We find good agreement when co-rotation is characterized by the line-of-sight velocity. At the same time, when co-rotation is inferred by the angular momenta of the satellites, the planes are in agreement with the plane around our Galaxy. We find such planes to be common in our high-concentration haloes. The number of co-rotating satellites obtained from the sign of the line-of-sight velocity shows large variations depending on the viewing angle and is consistent with that obtained from a sample with random velocities. We find that the clustering of angular momentum vectors of the satellites in the plane is a better measure of the kinematic coherence. Thus we conclude that the line-of-sight velocity is not well suited as a proxy for the kinematical coherence of the plane. Analysis of the kinematics of our planes shows a fraction of ~30 per cent chance-aligned satellites. Tracking the satellites in the plane back in time reveals that these planes are a transient feature and not kinematically coherent as would appear at first sight. Thus we expect some of the satellites in the plane around Andromeda to have high velocities perpendicular to the plane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4348-4365
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 21 2016


  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: individual: Andromeda
  • Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
  • Local Group
  • Methods: numerical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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