Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Carlos Frenk

Bett, P. E. & Frenk, C. S. (2016). Spin flips - II. Evolution of dark matter halo spin orientation, and its correlation with major mergers. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 461(2): 1338-1355.

Author(s) from Durham


We expand our previous study on the relationship between changes in the orientation of the angular momentum vector of dark matter haloes (‘spin flips’) and changes in their mass, to cover the full range of halo masses in a simulation cube of length 100 h−1 Mpc. Since strong disturbances to a halo (such as might be indicated by a large change in the spin direction) are likely also to disturb the galaxy evolving within, spin flips could be a mechanism for galaxy morphological transformation without involving major mergers. We find that 35 per cent of haloes have, at some point in their lifetimes, had a spin flip of at least 45° that does not coincide with a major merger. Over 75 per cent of large spin flips coincide with non-major mergers; only a quarter coincide with major mergers. We find a similar picture for changes to the inner halo spin orientation, although here there is an increased likelihood of a flip occurring. Changes in halo angular momentum orientation, and other such measures of halo perturbation, are therefore very important quantities to consider, in addition to halo mergers, when modelling the formation and evolution of galaxies and confronting such models with observations.