Recent observations revealed a coherence between the spin vector of a galaxy and the orbital motion of its neighbors. We refer to the phenomenon as "the spin-orbit alignment (SOA)"and explore its physical origin via the IllustrisTNG simulation. This is the first study to utilize a cosmological hydrodynamic simulation to investigate the SOA of galaxy pairs. In particular, we identify paired galaxies at z = 0 having the nearest neighbor with mass ratios from 1/10 to 10 and calculate the spin-orbit angle for each pair. Our results are as follows. (a) There exists a clear preference for prograde orientations (i.e., SOA) for galaxy pairs, qualitatively consistent with observations. (b) The SOA is significant for both baryonic and dark matter spins, being the strongest for gas and the weakest for dark matter. (c) The SOA is stronger for less massive targets and for targets having closer neighbors. (d) The SOA strengthens for galaxies in low-density regions, and the signal is dominated by central-satellite pairs in low-mass halos. (e) There is an explicit dependence of the SOA on the duration of interaction with its current neighbor. Taken together, we propose that the SOA witnessed at z = 0 has been developed mainly by interactions with a neighbor for an extended period of time, rather than tidal torque from the ambient large-scale structure.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science