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By combining test-particle and self-consistent techniques, we have developed a method to rapidly explore the parameter space of galactic encounters. Our method, implemented in an interactive graphics program, can be used to find the parameters required to reproduce the observed morphology and kinematics of interacting disk galaxies. We test this system on an artificial data-set of 36 equal-mass merging encounters, and show that it is usually possible to reproduce the morphology and kinematics of these encounters and that a good match strongly constrains the encounter parameters.
Using a combination of self-consistent and test-particle techniques, Identikit 1 provided a way to vary the initial geometry of a galactic collision and instantly visualize the outcome. Identikit 2 uses the same techniques to define a mapping from the current morphology and kinematics of a tidal encounter back to the initial conditions. By requiring that various regions along a tidal feature all originate from a single disc with a unique orientation, this mapping can be used to derive the initial collision geometry. In addition, Identikit 2 offers a robust way to measure how well a particular model reproduces the morphology and kinematics of a pair of interacting galaxies. A set of eight self-consistent simulations is used to demonstrate the algorithm's ability to search a ten-dimensional parameter space and find near-optimal matches; all eight systems are successfully reconstructed.
The ZENO software package integrates N-body and SPH simulation codes with a large array of programs to generate initial conditions and analyze numerical simulations. Written in C, the ZENO system is portable between Mac, Linux, and Unix platforms. It is in active use at the Institute for Astronomy (IfA), at NRAO, and possibly elsewhere.
Zeno programs can perform a wide range of simulation and analysis tasks. While many of these programs were first created for specific projects, they embody algorithms of general applicability and embrace a modular design strategy, so existing code is easily applied to new tasks. Major elements of the system include structured data file utilities facilitate basic operations on binary data, including import/export of ZENO data to other systems; snapshot generation routines to create particle distributions with various properties; systems with user-specified density profiles can be realized in collisionless or gaseous form; multiple spherical and disk components may be set up in mutual equilibrium; and snapshot manipulation routines permit the user to sift, sort, and combine particle arrays, translate and rotate particle configurations, and assign new values to data fields associated with each particle.
Simulation codes include both pure N-body and combined N-body/SPH programs. Pure N-body codes are available in both uniprocessor and parallel versions. SPH codes offer a wide range of options for gas physics, including isothermal, adiabatic, and radiating models. Snapshot analysis programs calculate temporal averages, evaluate particle statistics, measure shapes and density profiles, compute kinematic properties, and identify and track objects in particle distributions. Visualization programs generate interactive displays and produce still images and videos of particle distributions; the user may specify arbitrary color schemes and viewing transformations.