Prediction and discovery of new structures in spiral galaxies
A.M. Fridman a, b, c
a Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
b Institute of Astronomy, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Pyatnitskaya 48, Moscow, 119017, Russian Federation
c Russian Research Centre ‘Kurchatov Institute’, Institute of Physics of Stochastic Structures, pl. Kurchatova 1, Moscow, 123182, Russian Federation
A review is given of the last 20 years of published research into the nature, origin mechanisms, and observed features of spiral-vortex structures found in galaxies. The so-called rotating shallow water experiments are briefly discussed, carried out with a facility designed by the present author and built at the Russian Scientific Center ‘Kurchatov Institute’ to model the origin of galactic spiral structures. The discovery of new vortex-anticyclone structures in these experiments stimulated searching for them astronomically using the RAS Special Astrophysical Observatory’s 6-meter BTA optical telescope, formerly the world’s and now Europe’s largest. Seven years after the pioneering experiments, Afanasyev and the present author discovered the predicted giant anticyclones in the galaxy Mrk 1040 by using BTA. Somewhat later, the theoretical prediction of giant cyclones in spiral galaxies was made, also to be verified by BTA afterwards. To use the observed line-of-sight velocity field for reconstructing the 3D velocity vector distribution in a galactic disk, a method for solving a problem from the class of ill-posed astrophysical problems was developed by the present author and colleagues. In addition to the vortex structure, other new features were discovered — in particular, slow bars (another theoretical prediction), for whose discovery an observational test capable of distinguishing them from their earlier-studied normal (fast) counterparts was designed.