Serbian Astronomical Journal 2010 Issue 180, Pages: 1-10
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The small-scale structure of the Magellanic stream as a foundation for galaxy evolution

Stanimirović S., Gallagher J.S.III, Nigra L.

The Magellanic Stream (MS) is the nearest example of a gaseous trail formed by interacting galaxies. While the substantial gas masses in these kinds of circumgalactic structures are postulated to represent important sources of fuel for future star formation, the mechanisms whereby this material might be accreted back into galaxies remain unclear. Recent neutral hydrogen (HI) observations have demonstrated that the northern portion of the MS, which probably has been interacting with the Milky Way's hot gaseous halo for close to 1000 Myr, has a larger spatial extent than previously recognized, while also containing significant amounts of small-scale structure. After a brief consideration of the large-scale kinematics of the MS as traced by the recently-discovered extension of the MS, we explore the aging process of the MS gas through the operation of various hydrodynamic instabilities and interstellar turbulence. This in turn leads to consideration of processes whereby MS material survives as cool gas, and yet also evidently fails to form stars. Parallels between the MS and extragalactic tidal features are brie'y discussed with an emphasis on steps toward establishing what the MS reveals about the critical role of local processes in determining the evolution of these kinds of systems.

Keywords: galaxy: Halo, galaxies: Evolution, magellanic clouds, hydrodynamics, instabilities