Anisotropies in the distribution of satellite galaxies

Dennis Zaritsky, Rodney Smith, Carlos S. Frenk, Simon D.M. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


We find that satellites of isolated disk galaxies at projected radii between 300 and 500 kpc are distributed asymmetrically about the parent galaxy and aligned preferentially with the disk minor axis. The dynamical timescale at these radii is sufficiently long that the shape of this distribution must reflect the formation history of the outer halo rather than its internal evolution. We also find that the orbital angular momenta of satellites at projected major axis distances of ≲ 200 kpc tend to align with that of the central disk. These results demonstrate that satellites are dynamically related to their primary galaxy. Satellites drawn from current simulations of hierarchical galaxy formation exhibit neither the systematic alignment nor the net rotation with the central disk that we find in the data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L53-L56
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART II
StatePublished - 1997


  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: halos
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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