Evolution and disruption of galaxies orbiting in the gravitational field of a larger cluster galaxy are driven by three coupled mechanisms: 1) the heating due to its time dependent motion in the primary; 2) mass loss due to the tidal strain field; and 3) orbital decay. Previous work demonstrated that tidal heating is effective well inside the impulse approximation limit. Not only does the overall energy increase over previous predictions, but the work is done deep inside the secondary galaxy, e.g. at or inside the half mass radius in most cases. Here, these ideas applied to cannibalization of elliptical galaxies with fundamental-plane parameters. In summary, satellites which can fall to the center of a cluster giant by dynamical friction are evaporated by internal heating by the time they reach the center. This suggests that true merger-produced multiple nuclei giants should be rare. Specifically, secondaries with mass ratios as small as 1% on any initial orbit evaporate and those on eccentric orbits with mass ratios as small as 0.1% evolve significantly and nearly evaporate in a galaxian age. Captured satellites with mass ratios smaller than roughly 1% have insufficient time to decay to the center. After many accretion events, the model predicts that the merged system has a profile similar to that of the original primary with a weak increase in concentration.
Weinberg, Martin D., "The Fate of Cannibalized Fundamental-plane Ellipticals" (1996). Astronomy Department Faculty Publication Series. 27.