Journal Article

Spiral structure in nearby galaxies – I. Sample, data analysis and overview of results

S. Kendall, R. C. Kennicutt and C. Clarke

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 414, issue 1, pages 538-564
Published in print June 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Spiral structure in nearby galaxies – I. Sample, data analysis and overview of results

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This paper, the first of two, introduces an observational study of spiral structure in galaxies chosen from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS). Near-infrared (NIR) and optical data are used to produce mass surface density maps, and from these the morphology of the disc is examined. The aim of this work is to characterize the prevalence of spiral structure in this sample and, in the cases where a clear spiral pattern is found, include the findings in a comparative study (reported in Paper II). A two-armed (‘grand design’) spiral pattern is found in approximately half of the galaxies studied, including all those that are designated as grand design in the optical, but also including some, but not all, optically flocculent galaxies. It is found that the level of non-axisymmetric structure in the galaxies’ mass distributions is only modestly higher in those galaxies that are classified as ‘grand design’ compared with those that are not, implying that non-grand design galaxies possess significant power in higher order modes. There is no evidence that bars preferentially trigger the spirals, but they do appear to stir up non-axisymmetric structure in the disc. In contrast, there is evidence that strong/close tidal interactions with companion galaxies are associated with strong two-armed spiral structure in the IR, though there are a number of galaxies with relatively weak IR spiral structure that do not possess such companions.

Keywords: galaxies: spiral; galaxies: structure; infrared: galaxies

Journal Article.  17505 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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