When Cold Radial Migration is Hot: Constraints from Resonant Overlap

Document Type



Final Published Version

Publication Title

Astrophysical Journal



Publication Date



It is widely accepted that stars in a spiral disk, like the Milky Way's, can radially migrate on the order of a scale length over the disk's lifetime. With the exception of cold torquing, also known as "churning," processes that contribute to the radial migration of stars are necessarily associated with kinematic heating. Additionally, it is an open question as to whether or not an episode of cold torquing is kinematically cold over long radial distances. This study uses a suite of analytically based simulations to investigate the dynamical response when stars are subject to cold torquing and are also resonant with an ultraharmonic. Model results demonstrate that these populations are kinematically heated and have rms changes in orbital angular momentum around corotation that can exceed those of populations that do not experience resonant overlap. Thus, kinematic heating can occur during episodes of cold torquing. In a case study of a Milky Way-like disk with an exponential surface density profile and flat rotation curve, up to 40% of cold torqued stars in the solar cylinder experience resonant overlap. This fraction increases toward the galactic center. To first approximation, the maximum radial excursions from cold torquing depend only on the strength of the spiral pattern and the underlying rotation curve. This work places an upper limit to these excursions to be the distance between the ultraharmonics, otherwise radial migration near corotation can kinematically heat. The diffusion rate for kinematically cold radial migration is thus constrained by limiting the step size in the random walk approximation.