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Elliptical galaxies

  1. Jan 17, 2013 #1

    I read that the density wave theory makes up the shape of the spiral galaxies look spiral? Is there any specific reason for elliptical galaxies to make the shape of a ellipse?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 17, 2013 #2


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    The above may help. Since they seem to form from the merger of two or more galalxies, the original spiral shape gets lost and the ellipsoid result seems to be the natural shape resulting from gravity and angular momentum.
  4. Jan 17, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the information. I read through wikipedia. It says mostly they are formed by mergers of other galaxies.
  5. Jan 18, 2013 #4
    This theory seems to have been recently falsified:

    "Observational Evidence Against Long-Lived Spiral Arms in Galaxies"
    Kelly Foyle, Hans-Walter Rix, Clare Dobbs, Adam Leroy, Fabian Walter
    (Submitted on 25 May 2011)

    Abstract: We test whether the spiral patterns apparent in many large disk galaxies should be thought of as dynamical features that are stationary in a co-rotating frame for > t_{dyn}, as implied by the density wave approach for explaining spiral arms. If such spiral arms have enhanced star formation (SF), observational tracers for different stages of the SF sequence should show a spatial ordering, from up-stream to downstream in the corotating frame: dense HI, CO, tracing molecular hydrogen gas, 24 micron emission tracing enshrouded SF and UV emission tracing unobscured young stars. We argue that such a spatial ordering should be reflected in the angular cross-correlation (CC, in polar coordinates) using all azimuthal positions among pairs of these tracers; the peak of the CC should be offset from zero, in different directions inside and outside the corotation radius. Recent spiral SF simulations by Dobbs & Pringle, show explicitly that for the case of a stationary spiral arm potential such angular offsets between gas and young stars of differing ages should be observable as cross-correlation offsets. We calculate the angular cross-correlations for different observational SF sequence tracers in 12 nearby spiral galaxies, drawing on a data set with high quality maps of the neutral gas HI, THINGS), molecular gas (CO, HERACLES) along with 24 micron emission (Spitzer, SINGS); we include FUV images (GALEX) and 3.6 $\mu$m emission (Spitzer, IRAC) for some galaxies, tracing aging stars and longer timescales. In none of the resulting tracer cross-correlations for this sample do we find systematic angular offsets, which would be expected for a stationary dynamical spiral pattern of well-defined pattern speed. This result indicates that spiral density waves in their simplest form are not an important aspect of explaining spirals in large disk galaxies.
  6. Jan 18, 2013 #5
    So where do we stand?
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