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Magnetic field as a tracer of sheared gas flow in barred galaxies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Vladimir Shoutenkov, Professor Anvar ShukurovORCiD, Professor Dmitry Sokoloff


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Many spiral galaxies have stellar bars - an elongated region near the centre from which spiral arms emerge. Gas and stars in barred galaxies move on highly non-circular orbits. Models predict that the gas streamlines are strongly deflected along shock fronts in the bar region, and that the gas behind the shock is compressed. Dust lanes form in dense gas regions and it is believed that gas flows inward along these lanes to fuel bursts of star formation in a ring of dense molecular gas near the centre of the galaxy. This inflow is difficult to measure observationally. Magnetic fields are known to pervade the interstellar gas in all spiral galaxies, but the relationship between such fields and the gas flow in barred galaxies has not hitherto been investigated. Here we report high-resolution radio observations of the magnetic fields in the barred galaxy NGC1097. We find a regular magnetic field in the bar and in the circumnuclear ring. The field in the bar is well aligned with the theoretical gas streamlines, and so appears to be a good tracer of the gas flow. The magnetic stress in the ring can drive mass inward at the rate needed to fuel the active nucleus of this galaxy.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Beck R, Ehle M, Shoutenkov V, Shukurov A, Sokoloff D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature

Year: 1999

Volume: 397

Issue: 6717

Pages: 324-327

Print publication date: 28/01/1999

ISSN (print): 0028-0836

ISSN (electronic): 1476-4687

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/16861


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