Astrophys. J., 871, 194-194 (2019/February-1)
On the connection between spiral arm pitch angle and galaxy properties.
YU S.-Y. and HO L.C.
Abstract (from CDS):
We measure the pitch angle (φ) of spiral arms in a sample of 79 galaxies to perform a systematic study of the dependence of φ on galaxy morphology, mass, and kinematics to investigate the physical origin of spiral arms. We find that φ decreases (arms are more tightly wound), albeit with significant scatter, in galaxies with earlier Hubble type, more prominent bulges, higher concentration, and larger total galaxy stellar mass (M*gal). For a given concentration, galaxies with larger stellar masses tend to have tighter spiral arms, and vice versa. We also find that φ obeys a tight inverse correlation with central stellar velocity dispersion for σc >= 100 km s–1, whereas φ remains approximately constant for σc <= 100 km s–1. We demonstrate that the φ-σc and φ-M*gal relations are projections of a more fundamental three-dimensional ϕ–σc–M*gal relation, such that pitch angle is determined by σc for massive galaxies but by M*gal for less massive galaxies. Contrary to previous studies, we find that φ correlates only loosely with the galaxy's shear rate. For a given shear rate, spirals generated from N-body simulations exhibit much higher φ than observed, suggesting that galactic disks are dynamically cooler (Toomre's Q ≃ 1.2). Instead, the measured pitch angles show a much stronger relation with morphology of the rotation curve of the central region, such that galaxies with centrally peaked rotation curves have tight arms, while those with slow-rising rotation curves have looser arms. These behaviors are qualitatively consistent with predictions of density wave theory.
© 2019. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
galaxies: kinematics and dynamics - galaxies: photometry - galaxies: spiral - galaxies: structure
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