Journal Article

Tracing spiral density waves in M81

S. Kendall, R. C. Kennicutt, C. Clarke and M. D. Thornley

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 387, issue 3, pages 1007-1020
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Tracing spiral density waves in M81

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We use Spitzer IRAC 3.6 and 4.5 μm near-infrared data from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS), optical B, V and I and Two-Micron All-Sky Survey Ks-band data to produce mass surface density maps of M81. The IRAC 3.6- and 4.5-μm data, whilst dominated by emission from old stellar populations, are corrected for small-scale contamination by young stars and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emission. The I-band data are used to produce a mass surface density map by a BV colour correction, following the method of Bell and de Jong. We fit a bulge and exponential disc to each mass map, and subtract these components to reveal the non-axisymmetric mass surface density. From the residual mass maps, we are able to extract the amplitude and phase of the density wave, using azimuthal profiles. The response of the gas is observed via dust emission in the 8-μm IRAC band, allowing a comparison between the phase of the stellar density wave and gas shock. The relationship between this angular offset and radius suggests that the spiral structure is reasonably long-lived and allows the position of corotation to be determined.

Keywords: galaxies: individual: M81; galaxies: spiral; galaxies: structure; infrared: galaxies

Journal Article.  11220 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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