A Galactic Ring of Minimum Stellar Density Near the Solar Orbit Radius
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AbstractWe analyse the secular effects of a long-lived Galactic spiral structure on the stellar orbits with mean radii close to the corotation resonance. By test-particle simulations and different spiral potential models with parameters constrained on observations, we verified the formation of a minimum with amplitude ~ 30% - 40% of the background disk stellar density at corotation. Such minimum is formed by the secular angular momentum transfer between stars and the spiral density wave on both sides of corotation. We demonstrate that the secular loss (gain) of angular momentum and decrease (increase) of mean orbital radius of stars just inside (outside) corotation can counterbalance the opposite trend of exchange of angular momentum shown by stars orbiting the librational points L_4/5 at the corotation circle. Such secular processes actually allow steady spiral waves to promote radial migration across corotation. We propose some observational evidences for the minimum stellar density in the Galactic disk, such as its direct relation to the minimum in the observed rotation curve of the Galaxy at the radius R ~ 9 kpc (for R_0 = 7.5 kpc), as well as its association with a minimum in the distribution of Galactic radii of a sample of open clusters older than 1 Gyr. The closeness of the solar orbit radius to the corotation resonance implies that the solar orbit lies inside a ring of minimum surface density (stellar + gas). This also implies in a correction to larger values for the estimated total mass of the Galactic disk, and consequently, a greater contribution of the disk component to the inner rotation curve of the Galaxy.
Comment: 25 pages, 14 figures