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A Fundamental Plane of Spiral Structure in Disk Galaxies

Davis, Benjamin L. and Kennefick, Daniel and Kennefick, Julia and Westfall, Kyle B. and Shields, Douglas W. and Flatman, Russell and Hartley, Matthew T. and Berrier, Joel C. and Martinsson, Thomas P. K. and Swaters, Rob A. (2015) A Fundamental Plane of Spiral Structure in Disk Galaxies. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 802 (1). Art. No. L13. ISSN 2041-8205.

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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.

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Additional Information:© 2015 The American Astronomical Society. Received 29 December 2014, accepted for publication 8 March 2015; Published 24 March 2015. The authors thank Marc Seigar and Matthew Bershady, who provided valuable comments on drafts of the Letter. We thank the National Optical Astronomy Observatory for observing time on the WIYN 3.5 m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. We acknowledge the use of data obtained with PPak and SparsePak IFUs on the Calar Alto and WIYN 3.5 m telescopes, made available by the DiskMass Survey team. This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED), which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Plots were generated using Mathematica. Numerical computations and statistical analyses were performed with Matlab. We also thank the National Science Foundation (NSF) for REU Site grant No. 0851150, which contributed to a significant part of the data collection for this Letter. This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System. K.B.W. acknowledges support from NSF (USA) grant OISE-0754437 and NWO (NL) grant 614.000.807.
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Subject Keywords:galaxies: evolution; galaxies: fundamental parameters; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics; galaxies: spiral; galaxies: structure
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150416-113929318
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Official Citation:A Fundamental Plane of Spiral Structure in Disk Galaxies Benjamin L. Davis et al. 2015 ApJ 802 L13
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:56726
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:17 Apr 2015 03:06
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 08:16

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