A FUNDAMENTAL PLANE of SPIRAL STRUCTURE in DISK GALAXIES

Benjamin L. Davis, Daniel Kennefick, Julia Kennefick, Kyle B. Westfall, Douglas W. Shields, Russell Flatman, Matthew T. Hartley, Joel C. Berrier, Thomas P.K. Martinsson, Rob A. Swaters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Spiral structure is the most distinctive feature of disk galaxies and yet debate persists about which theory of spiral structure is correct. Many versions of the density wave theory demand that the pitch angle be uniquely determined by the distribution of mass in the bulge and disk of the galaxy. We present evidence that the tangent of the pitch angle of logarithmic spiral arms in disk galaxies correlates strongly with the density of neutral atomic hydrogen in the disk and with the central stellar bulge mass of the galaxy. These three quantities, when plotted against each other, form a planar relationship that we argue should be fundamental to our understanding of spiral structure in disk galaxies. We further argue that any successful theory of spiral structure must be able to explain this relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL13
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume802
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 20 2015

Keywords

  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • galaxies: spiral
  • galaxies: structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A FUNDAMENTAL PLANE of SPIRAL STRUCTURE in DISK GALAXIES'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Davis, B. L., Kennefick, D., Kennefick, J., Westfall, K. B., Shields, D. W., Flatman, R., Hartley, M. T., Berrier, J. C., Martinsson, T. P. K., & Swaters, R. A. (2015). A FUNDAMENTAL PLANE of SPIRAL STRUCTURE in DISK GALAXIES. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 802(1), [L13]. https://doi.org/10.1088/2041-8205/802/1/L13