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Astron. Astrophys. 343, 663-681 (1999)

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Vorticity generation in large-scale structure caustics

C. Pichon 1,2,3 and F. Bernardeau 3,4

1 CITA, 60 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A7, Canada
2 Astronomisches Institut Universitaet Basel, Venusstrasse 7 CH-4102 Binningen, Switzerland,
3 Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, 98 bis Boulevard d'Arago, F-75014 Paris, France
4 Centre d'étude de Saclay, Service de Physique Théorique, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Received 15 December 1997 / Accepted 2 December 1998


A fundamental hypothesis for the interpretation of the measured large-scale line-of-sight peculiar velocities of galaxies is that the large-scale cosmic flows are irrotational. In order to assess the validity of this assumption, we estimate, within the frame of the gravitational instability scenario, the amount of vorticity generated after the first shell crossings in large-scale caustics. In the Zel'dovich approximation the first emerging singularities form sheet like structures. Here we compute the expectation profile of an initial overdensity under the constraint that it goes through its first shell crossing at the present time. We find that this profile corresponds to rather oblate structures in Lagrangian space. Assuming the Zel'dovich approximation is still adequate not only at the first stages of the evolution but also slightly after the first shell crossing, we calculate the size and shape of those caustics and their vorticity content as a function of time and for different cosmologies.

The average vorticity created in these caustics is small: of the order of one (in units of the Hubble constant). To illustrate this point we compute the contribution of such caustics to the probability distribution function of the filtered vorticity at large scales. We find that this contribution that this yields a negligible contribution at the 10 to 15 [FORMULA]Mpc scales. It becomes significant only at the scales of 3 to 4 [FORMULA]Mpc, that is, slightly above the galaxy cluster scales.

Key words: galaxies: formation – cosmology: theory – cosmology: dark matter – cosmology: large-scale structure of Universe

Send offprint requests to: C. Pichon (pichon@astro.unibas.ch)

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: March 1, 1999