Barred spiral galaxy

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NGC 1300, viewed nearly face-on; Hubble Space Telescope image
The Sculptor Galaxy, a barred spiral starburst galaxy, (2MASS)

A barred spiral galaxy is a spiral galaxy with a central bar-shaped structure composed of stars. Bars are found in approximately two-thirds of all spiral galaxies.[1] Bars generally affect both the motions of stars and interstellar gas within spiral galaxies and can affect spiral arms as well.[1]

Edwin Hubble classified spiral galaxies of this type as "SB" (spiral, barred) in his Hubble sequence, and arranged them into three sub-categories based on how open the arms of the spiral are. SBa types feature tightly bound arms, while SBc types are at the other extreme and have loosely bound arms. SBb-type galaxies lie in between. A fourth type, SBm, was subsequently created to describe somewhat irregular barred spirals, such as the Magellanic Cloud galaxies, which were once classified as irregular galaxies, but have since been found to contain barred spiral structures. Among other types in Hubble's classifications for the galaxies are: spiral galaxy, elliptical galaxy and irregular galaxy.

Observations[citation needed] by radio telescopes had for years[when?] already suggested the Milky Way is barred, and in 2005 infra-red observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope backed up previously collected evidence.

The bars[edit]

This image, speckled with blue, white, and yellow light, shows part of the spiral galaxy IC 5052.[2]

Barred spiral galaxies are apparently predominant, with surveys showing that up to two-thirds of all spiral galaxies contain a bar.[3] The current hypothesis is that the bar structure acts as a type of stellar nursery, fueling star birth at their centers. The bar is thought to act as a mechanism that channels gas inwards from the spiral arms through orbital resonance, in effect funneling the flow to create new stars.[4] This process is also thought to explain why many barred spiral galaxies have active galactic nuclei, such as that seen in the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy.

The creation of the bar is generally thought to be the result of a density wave radiating from the center of the galaxy whose effects reshape the orbits of the inner stars. This effect builds over time to stars orbiting further out, which creates a self-perpetuating bar structure.[5]

Bars are thought to be a temporary phenomenon in the life of spiral galaxies, the bar structure decaying over time, transforming the galaxy from a barred spiral to a "regular" spiral pattern. Past a certain size the accumulated mass of the bar compromises the stability of the overall bar structure. Barred spiral galaxies with high mass accumulated in their center tend to have short, stubby bars.[6] Since so many spiral galaxies have a bar structure, it is likely that it is a recurring phenomenon in spiral galaxy development. The oscillating evolutionary cycle from spiral galaxy to barred spiral galaxy is thought to take on the average about two billion years.[7]

Recent studies have confirmed the idea that bars are a sign of galaxies reaching full maturity as the "formative years" end. A team led by Kartik Sheth of the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena discovered that only 20 percent of the spiral galaxies in the distant past possessed bars, compared with nearly 70 percent of their modern counterparts.[8]

The bulges[edit]

Tends to contain newer and hotter stars.


Under the de Vaucouleurs classification system, SB-galaxies are one of three types of spiral galaxy

Example Type Image Information Notes (clarification)
SB0- SB0- is a type of lenticular galaxy
SB0 SB0 is a type of lenticular galaxy
SB0+ SB0+ is a type of lenticular galaxy
SB0/a SB0/a can also be considered a type of barred lenticular galaxy
NGC 4314 SBa NGC 4314HST1998-21-b-full.jpg This is actually an "SB(rs)a"[clarification needed]
NGC 4921 SBab NGC 4921 by HST.jpg This is actually an "SB(rs)ab"[clarification needed]
Messier 95 SBb Messier object 095.jpg This is actually an "SB(r)b"[clarification needed]
NGC 3953 SBbc NGC3953HunterWIlson.jpg This is actually an "SB(r)bc"[clarification needed]
NGC 1073 SBc This is actually an "SB(rs)c"[clarification needed]
Messier 108 SBcd Messier108.jpg This is actually an "SB(s)cd"[clarification needed]
NGC 2903 SBd NGC 2903 GALEX.jpg This is actually an "SB(s)d"[clarification needed]
NGC 5398 SBdm NGC 5398SST.jpg SBdm can also be considered a type of barred Magellanic spiral This is actually an "SB(rs)dm"[clarification needed]
NGC 55 SBm Irregular Galaxy NGC 55 (ESO 0914a).jpg SBm is a type of Magellanic spiral (Sm) This is actually an "SB(s)m"[clarification needed]


Name Image Type Constellation
M58 M58s.jpg SBc Virgo
M91 Messier91.jpg SBb Coma Berenices
M95 Messier 95.jpg SBb Leo
M109 Messier object 109.jpg SBb Ursa Major
NGC 1300 Hubble2005-01-barred-spiral-galaxy-NGC1300.jpg SBbc Eridanus
NGC 1365 Phot-08a-99-hires.jpg SBc Fornax
NGC 2217 NGC 2217 ESO.jpg SBa Canis Major
Magellanic Clouds Magellanic Clouds ― Irregular Dwarf Galaxies.jpg SBm Dorado, Tucana

See also[edit]

The most distinctive feature of NGC 2146 is the dusty spiral arm that has looped in front of the galaxy's core as seen from our perspective.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b D. Mihalas (1968). Galactic Astronomy. W. H. Freeman. ISBN 978-0-7167-0326-6. 
  2. ^ "Blue bursts of hot young stars". ESA/Hubble. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  3. ^ P. B. Eskridge, J. A. Frogel (1999). "What is the True Fraction of Barred Spiral Galaxies?". Astrophysics and Space Science. 269/270: 427–430. Bibcode:1999Ap&SS.269..427E. doi:10.1023/A:1017025820201. 
  4. ^ J. H. Knapen, D. Pérez-Ramírez, S. Laine (2002). "Circumnuclear regions in barred spiral galaxies - II. Relations to host galaxies". Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society 337 (3): 808–828. arXiv:astro-ph/0207258. Bibcode:2002MNRAS.337..808K. doi:10.1046/j.1365-8711.2002.05840.x. 
  5. ^ F. Bournaud, F. Combes (2002). "Gas accretion on spiral galaxies: Bar formation and renewal". Astronomy and Astrophysics 392 (1): 83–102. arXiv:astro-ph/0206273. Bibcode:2002A&A...392...83B. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020920. 
  6. ^ Barred Spirals Come and Go, Sky and Telescope, April 2002
  7. ^ Ripples in a Galactic Pond, Scientific American, October 2005
  8. ^ Barred Spiral Galaxies are Latecomers to the Universe Newswise, Retrieved on July 29, 2008.