Volume 553, May 2013
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Published online||07 May 2013|
Spiral arm pitch angle and galactic shear rate in N-body simulations of disc galaxies
Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London,
Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking,
Received: 18 February 2013
Accepted: 22 March 2013
Spiral galaxies are observed to exhibit a range of morphologies, in particular in the shape of spiral arms. A key diagnostic parameter is the pitch angle, which describes how tightly wound the spiral arms are. Observationally and analytically, a correlation between pitch angle and galactic shear rate has been detected. For the first time, we examine whether this effect is detected in N-body simulations by calculating and comparing pitch angles of both individual density waves and overall spiral structure in a suite of N-body simulations. We find that higher galactic shear rates produce more tightly wound spiral arms, both in individual mode patterns (density waves) and in the overall density enhancement. Although the mode pattern pitch angles by construction remain constant with time, the overall logarithmic spiral arm winds over time, which could help to explain the scatter in the relation between pitch angle versus shear seen from observations. The correlation between spiral arm pitch angle and galactic shear rate that we find in N-body simulations may also explain why late Hubble type of spiral galaxies tend to have more open arms.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: structure / galaxies: spiral / galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
© ESO, 2013
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.