Inferring galaxy viewing angles

Jeremy S. Heyl, Lars Hernquist, David N. Spergel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The kinematic structure of remnants produced from major mergers of disk progenitors is examined. In particular, we consider moments of the projected velocity field and quantify departures of the line profiles from Gaussianity using a Gauss-Hermite expansion. By averaging over circular apertures, we are able to show that the line profiles exhibit significant deviations from Gaussianity and, of greater interest, we find that the high-order moments correlate with viewing angle. This effect appears to be a natural consequence of the orbital structure of equilibrium triaxial systems. The correlations in our models appear sufficiently tight that it may be possible, in principle, to infer viewing angles from observations, provided that the kinematics of the remnants in our simulations are representative of those of actual elliptical galaxies. Observational tests of our scheme are proposed, and possible applications of the technique to the study of intrinsic properties of galaxies and clusters are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Galaxies: structure


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