The importance of interactions for mass loss from satellite galaxies in cold dark matter haloes

Knebe, Alexander ; Power, Chris ; Gill, Stuart P. D. ; Gibson, Brad K.

In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2006, vol. 368, no. 2, p. 741-750

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    We investigate the importance of interactions between dark matter substructures for the mass loss they suffer whilst orbiting within a sample of high-resolution galaxy cluster mass cold dark matter (CDM) haloes formed in cosmological N-body simulations. We have defined a quantitative measure that gauges the degree to which interactions are responsible for mass loss from substructures. This measure indicates that interactions are more prominent in younger systems when compared to older more relaxed systems. We show that this is due to the increased number of encounters a satellite experiences and a higher mass fraction in satellites. This is in spite of the uniformity in the distributions of relative distances and velocities of encounters between substructures within the different host systems in our sample. Using a simple model to relate the net force felt by a single satellite to the mass loss it suffers, we show that interactions with other satellites account for ∼30 per cent of the total mass loss experienced over its lifetime. The relation between the age of the host and the importance of interactions increases the scatter about this mean value from ∼25 per cent for the oldest to ∼45 per cent for the youngest system we have studied. We conclude that satellite interactions play a vital role in the evolution of substructure in dark matter haloes and that a significant fraction of the tidally stripped material can be attributed to these interactions