Grand design and flocculent spiral structure in computer simulations with star formation and gas heating
Journal article, 1993
An algorithm for star formation and gas heating is included in numerical simulations of galaxy disks. With a high disk mass and an inner Q-barrier, the simulations spontaneously generate and then maintain for several revolutions a long-lived two-arm spiral wave mode that resembles a grand design galaxy. Eventually a multiple arm pattern appears because of a growing m = 3 component; multiple arm patterns also form right away if there is no Q barrier. When the stellar Q-value exceeds ~2.5 because of a low disk mass or a large velocity dispersion, stellar spirals do not form at all; if the relative gas mass is also small in this case (about 10 % of the total galaxy mass or less), then the spiral structure is purely flocculent, i.e., composed of numerous short arms in only the gas and star formation component. The star formation algorithm is made as realistic as possible, with young stars forming in virialized cloud complexes, moving kinematically as tracer particles, and heating their environments at the observed average rate. The results illustrate the importance for spiral structure of the stellar Q and the star formation thermostat in the interstellar gas.
GALAXIES: KINEMATICS AND DYNAMICS
INTERSTELLAR MEDIUM: KINEMATICS AND DYNAMICS