Star formation and ISM morphology in tidally induced spiral structures Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Tidal encounters are believed to be one of the key drivers of galactic spiral structure in the Universe. Such spirals are expected to produce different morphological and kinematic features compared to density wave and dynamic spiral arms. In this work we present high resolution simulations of a tidal encounter of a small mass companion with a disc galaxy. Included are the effects of gas cooling and heating, star formation and stellar feedback. The structure of the perturbed disc differs greatly from the isolated galaxy, showing clear spiral features that act as sites of new star formation, and displaying interarm spurs. The two arms of the galaxy, the bridge and tail, appear to behave differently; with different star formation histories and structure. Specific attention is focused on offsets between gas and stellar spiral features which can be directly compared to observations. We find some offsets do exist between different media, with gaseous arms appearing mostly on the convex side of the stellar arms, though the exact locations appear highly time dependent. These results further highlight the differences between tidal spirals and other theories of arm structure.


  • Pettitt, Alex R
  • Tasker, Elizabeth J
  • Wadsley, James
  • Keller, Ben W
  • Benincasa, Samantha M

publication date

  • July 2017