Spurs and feathering in spiral galaxies

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87 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present smoothed particle hydrodynamic (SPH) simulations of the response of gas discs to a spiral potential. These simulations show that the commonly observed spurs and feathering in spiral galaxies can be understood as being due to structures present in the spiral arms that are sheared by the divergent orbits in a spiral potential. Thus, dense molecular cloud-like structures generate the perpendicular spurs as they leave the spiral arms. Subsequent feathering occurs as spurs are further sheared into weaker parallel structures as they approach the next spiral passage. Self-gravity of the gas is not included in these simulations, stressing that these features are purely due to the hydrodynamics in spiral shocks. Instead, a necessary condition for this mechanism to work is that the gas need be relatively cold (1000 K or less) in order that the shock is sufficient to generate structure in the spiral arms, and such structure is not subsequently smoothed by the gas pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873
Number of pages873
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume367
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2006

Keywords

  • hydrodynamics
  • galaxies : ISM
  • galaxies : spiral
  • galaxies : structure
  • STAR-FORMATION
  • GASDYNAMICAL STABILITY
  • MOLECULAR CLOUDS
  • MODELS
  • SHOCKS
  • MASS
  • ARMS
  • M51

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